This is amazing. Some 1,000 Yemeni-American owned grocery stores across New York City will go on strike today, over Donald Trump’s unconstitutional ban targeting Muslims and refugees.
On the door of a bodega near my apartment ✊️ pic.twitter.com/No7zYhNX6y
— am cosmos (@acosmos) February 2, 2017
As Buzzfeed explains, this kind of a shutdown among Yemeni stores is extremely rare, since stores also serve many community needs and operate 24 hours a day. But for store-owners, Trump’s ban is personal. Buzzfeed explains:
Widad Hassan, a 27-year-old graduate student focusing on international studies and one of the organizers of the strike, told BuzzFeed News the community began planning the action several days ago, when a couple of business owners were talking about the executive order.
The law bars Syrian refugees from entry indefinitely, suspends refugee admissions for 120 days, and blocks citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the US for 90 days.
Many of the merchants had family they could no longer visit, because of the threat of being refused re-entry into the country.
“A lot of these stores have been in the neighborhood for 20 or 30 years,” Hassan said. “And lot of people have been asking us, ‘Wouldn’t this hurt them because they’ll be losing money?’ The business owners have said the important thing is the statement being made. Many have been emotionally devastated. They can’t focus on work, because they’re separated from their family members.”
The action, organizers say, was inspired by the recent strike from the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, over detained Muslims and refugees at JFK following Trump’s order.
When car-sharing service Uber attempted to cash in on the vacuum, the public backlash was swift, with countless users deleting their Uber accounts in solidarity with Muslims and refugees attacked by Trump, and the Taxi Workers Alliance:
“That was definitely amazing,” she said of the taxicab work stoppage. “I think it’s very important right now. For a long time, communities have felt that they can kind of make themselves invisible, despite what’s going on, in day-to-day living. I think these communities realize that that can’t happen anymore. We all have to make a statement and speak out about what we’re seeing — not only what’s affecting the Yemeni community but other countries — and there’s the notion that the ban might expand to include even other countries.
“One minute, I’m a Muslim New Yorker, born and raised here. With the stroke of a pen, your nationality or your family’s nationality becomes criminalized.”
Other activists have already called for a national strike within the next few weeks, and today’s strike from the Yemeni-American community could be just the thing to get the ball rolling.