Only in New York: Bodega owners strike to protest travel ban

Protests have raged around the country since President Trump issued his executive order on refugees, with demonstrations taking place at airports, in parks and outside Congress members’ offices and homes.

In the Big Apple, protests took on a decidedly New York tone. Owners and workers from an estimated 1,000 bodegas, the ubiquitous corner deli and grocery stores run largely by Yemeni immigrants, shut their doors for eight hours Thursday (only after the morning rush had ended).

They were supported by the mayor, city and state representatives, and thousands of New Yorkers who depend on them for their daily coffee, bagels and newspapers. Many took to Twitter to show their support:

Not generally known for their activism, Yemini Americans turned out in droves. They gathered at a rally in downtown Brooklyn, which began with a call to prayer at sundown. They waved as many American flags as Yemeni ones, if not more.

Debbie Almontaser, president of the Muslim Community Network and an organizer of the event, told Rolling Stone magazine that members of the Yemeni American community had gathered over the weekend to discuss what they could do in response to Trump’s ban on travelers from not only Yemen, but also Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Syria.

Instead of closing all day, shopkeepers opted to close from noon to 8 p.m. “They said, ‘We can’t do 8 a.m. because we don’t want to disrupt the lives of the people we serve every day,’” Almontaser said.

nina.agrawal@latimes.com

Twitter: @AgrawalNina

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