City councilman working to close hundreds of businesses to create a safer Jacksonville

He wants to remove internet cafes from the city

Business closures to create safer Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A council member said a new plan to instantly create safer neighborhoods in Jacksonville is just one signature away. The city council approved a measure to close illegally operating internet cafes.

“He was robbed and murdered, because of it,” said a neighbor who lives in Mayport.

UPDATED STORY: 15 internet cafes in Jacksonville forced to close Monday 

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She told Action News Jax she hates internet cafes, after a robbery at one led to her neighbor’s death. In January, police said Lawrence Hall robbed a Mayport Café, and then drove into a neighborhood and forced a man into his SUV and took off. About 8 miles away, Hall crashed the stolen SUV into a deputy’s car. Kimberly’s 84-year-old neighbor died a week later from his injuries.

“You’ve got people coming from out of town, they’re doing drugs, prostitution,” said Al Ferraro, a council member.

Ferraro has been working for a year to get internet cafes out of Jacksonville. He said not all, but many of them draw crime into the city. He said nearly 100 internet cafes that do not have a certificate of use (COU) are going to be closed immediately. For those with a COU, they will have six months to pull out any simulated gambling machines.

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In 2018, JSO told Action News Jax they received more than 28,000 calls to addresses tied to 100 cafes in the last five years.

Kimberly said she doesn’t want anyone else to get hurt.

“I don’t think anything good comes from the internet cafes,” she said.

Mayor Lenny Curry needs to sign the bill next. His office sent the following statement:

Mayor Curry will be fully supportive to JSO as they take action to close down the establishments without a COU. A task force will be meeting very soon to determine how to best notify all cafes owners that that they will need to be closed by the deadline that was approved by council
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