Yemeni-American bodega proprietors throughout New York City responded to President Donald Trump‘s executive order targeting Muslim immigrants with a strike and protest in Brooklyn yesterday (February 2).
Dubbed the "Muslim ban," it prevents immigrants from Yemen and six other Muslim-majority countries— Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Syria—from entering the United States for 90 days. The order includes those with visas, green cards and other permanent legal status—a group that the Voice says includes many of these unidentified business owners’ families and community members.
Inspired by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance’s one-hour suspension-of-service during protests at John. F Kennedy Airport, the business owners decided to strike for a day in protest. They reached out to Yemeni-American educator and activist Dr. Debbie Almontaser, who helped them organize.
NPR reports that approximately 1,000 Yemeni-owned bodegas across the city’s five boroughs shuttered their businesses until 8 p.m. Owners, employees and supporters then headed to Brooklyn’s Borough Hall to protest. The Village Voice estimated the crowd numbered into the thousands as people packed the hall’s steps and nearby grounds. The action included a break for Muslim protestors to pray.
My Yemeni fam in NYC today protesting #BodegaStrike
— Hasib N (@ahasnoor) February 2, 2017
— Jesse Hamilton (@SenatorHamilton) February 2, 2017
— Mary Emily O’Hara (@MaryEmilyOHara) February 2, 2017
— Adam H. Johnson (@adamjohnsonNYC) February 2, 2017
Prayer right now. Yemeni bodega boycott day and there’s 100s at Borough Hall, and 3 helicopters overhead pic.twitter.com/XT1yAlCbVH
— Julianne Hing (@juliannehing) February 2, 2017
— Rep. Nydia Velazquez (@NydiaVelazquez) February 3, 2017
— Esther Wang (@estherxlwang) February 2, 2017
— Ali Baydoun (@_Ali__B) February 3, 2017
— Daniel José Older (@djolder) February 2, 2017
— Dr.Debbie Almontaser (@DebbiAlmontaser) February 3, 2017
The #BodegaStrike also received cross-movement support. Constance Malcolm led a protest demanding justice for her son Ramarley Graham, who was killed by NYPD officer Richard Haste in 2012, over the Brooklyn Bridge to join the bodega workers in solidarity. Yesterday marked five years since Graham’s death.