Voices from the #BodegaStrike

Peter Rugh with John Tarleton Feb 3, 2017

New York is a city that runs on coffee — not to mention egg sandwiches, candy, cigarettes, chewing gum, beer, single serve aspirin tablets, potato chips, tabloid newspapers and lottery tickets. These are essential provisions in the city that never sleeps.

But our president is threatening to put New York to bed.

You see, all of these items can be found at one of the innumerable bodegas that dot New York’s corners (here’s Taylor Swift explaining) and it just so happens that a good many of these bodegas are owned and operated by members of the Yemeni community. When Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 27 barring immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States, Yemen — along with Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Syria — made the list. Without a moment's notice, the order split apart families and left thousands of people stranded overseas or in holding cells at American airports.

Trump’s white, ethno-nationalist directive strikes at the heart of what America means as embodied by the international character of New York. Without immigrant labor, America — and especially its financial capital — simply does not run.

In response to Trump’s Muslim ban the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which represents 18,000 taxi drivers in the city, announced on Saturday that its members would not provide rides to JFK International Airport until the travel ban was lifted. Following in the taxi drivers’ heals, approximately 1,000 bodegas closed their doors on Thursday, Feb. 2 for a #BodegaStrike. No coffee for you, New York. No candy, lotto tickets or smokes either.

The Indypendent’s John Tarleton and company walked through a rally organized by the bodega strikers at Brooklyn’s Borough Hall on Thursday, talking to strike participants and their supporters. Here are some of their voices.

Thoraiya from Bensonhurst

Eman from Harlem

Huda Ali from Yemen

Rama Mohammed from Coney Island 

Lorena Ambrosio 


Elia Gran contributed reporting to this article. 

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