Known for operating 24-hour businesses, bodega owners from across the city are closing their doors for eight hours today to protest President Trump’s executive order on immigration, otherwise known as the “Muslim Ban.”
The strike is planned from noon until 8 p.m. Organizers of the protest say that more than 1,000 Yemeni-American store owners from across the five boroughs plan to participate in the strike.
Yemeni-Americans have a large presence in the New York City bodega community. Yemen is one of the Middle Eastern nations whose citizens are prohibited from entering the U.S. for at least 90 days under the executive order that Trump signed last Friday.
“This shutdown of grocery stores and bodegas will be a public show of the vital role these grocers and their families play in New York’s economic and social fabric,” the strike organizers wrote on Facebook. “During the shutdown, grocery store owners will spend time with their families and loved ones to support each other; many of these families have been directly affected by the ban.”
This evening, participants of the strike are holding a rally at Brooklyn Borough Hall, where the strike organizers are calling for a public prayer at sundown. Following the prayer, store owners, merchants and rally participants will have the opportunity to share how the ban has impact their families and their lives.
Widad Hassan, one of the organizers of the strike, recognizes the impact that the strike will have on the store owners and hopes that it will have the same impact on the community.
“Most people in Yemeni communities know it’s difficult to shut down a business — it’s usually a 24-hour store. Even during hurricanes, they keep themselves open,” Hassan told Buzzfeed News. “But they really want people to be more aware of how it’s impacting them. For our community, we’ve been pretty much paralyzed — not knowing what to do, watching the headlines take over.”