New York’s Yemeni community, one of the groups affected by the Trump administration’s executive order banning travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, has decided to protest. Yemeni merchants across the five boroughs closed 1,000 grocery stores and bodegas beginning at noon. (h/t BuzzFeed) Residents of the seven countries named in the executive order who are not U.S. citizens are prohibited from traveling to the United States for 90 days.
The shutdown affected a large number of bodegas citywide, as many are owned by Yemeni-Americans or immigrants from the country. According to a release from Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams’s office, as many as 6,000 Yemeni-Americans own businesses in New York City, many of which are clustered in the borough.
A Facebook page announcing the shutdown states that instead of conducting day-to-day business, New York’s Yemeni-American community would “spend time with their families and loved ones to support each other.” A rally at Brooklyn Borough Hall started earlier than expected, and included a prayer led by Muslim participants. Those in attendance will “[share] personal stories of how their lives and families have been impacted by the ban, as well as stories read on behalf of families who are afraid to come forward.”
According to a press release, the grocers considered beginning the strike at 8 a.m., but decided it against it in order to better serve their regular customers. “Even when their lives have been turned upside down, they refused to disrupt the lives of the very people they serve daily,” said Debbie Almontaser, a board member of the Muslim Community Network who is also one of the rally organizers. The rally will continue at Borough Hall until 8 p.m.
The strike is a continuation of protests that began over the weekend, when protestors flooded airports around the country in response to the Trump administration’s executive order on immigration. New York also saw a gathering of about 30,000 in Battery Park on Sunday.
Photos that have popped up on social media throughout the day show the myriad reasons shop owners had for participating in the protest, from displays of solidarity to their own families being detained at airports.