Around 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday, a man walked into Pacific Supermarket on the corner of Pacific Street and Nostrand Avenue in Crown Heights, and dropped two posters on the counter. One had an image of a Yemeni flag, alongside an American Flag. Starting Thursday at noon, it read, the deli will close in support of "our family, friends and loved ones who are stranded at US airports and overseas." The other included directions to Borough Hall in Brooklyn, where Yemeni merchants will rally this evening.
— Emma Whitford (@emma_a_whitford) February 2, 2017
Pacific Supermarket is one of more than a thousand Yemeni-American delis and groceries planning to shutter from noon to 8:00 pm Thursday, to send a message to the Trump administration that their families are deeply impacted by his executive order banning immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries, Yemen among them, for at least the next several months. The mass store closures, organizers say, will also show that Yemeni businesses have a large social and economic footprint in NYC.
"It's because of what's going on in the world," said Ahmed, who has lived in Crown Heights for over two years, and works at Pacific Supermarket (he declined to give his last name). "I think [Trump's] doing the wrong thing. He makes people more racist."
Omran Alrubai, 24, is a cashier at JC Deli on Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn. "I have family that came to the airport, and they sent them back," he told Gothamist on Thursday morning. "People that I know, they canceled their visas and everything. They aren't allowed to enter the country anymore."
Alrubai added that he was not just striking for his community. "It's not just Muslims, or blacks, or Mexicans," he said. "It's everybody. We're all immigrants. "
Support for the ban is not unanimous among deli owners. This morning, Gothamist spoke to a Vietnamese deli owner in Dumbo who declined to provide his name for fear or retribution.
"I have a very big nut to crack over here with rent, and that's the reason why [I'm not participating]," he said. "I would never do anything to hurt the people that helped support me all these years. If it benefits the public, I'll do it."
"He's a New Yorker," the owner added, of Trump. "He's a business man. He's got 90 days, okay? I'm giving him a chance. He's trying to get all of his dirty work out front, and then after 90 days maybe we'll see—he'll soften a little bit."
We'll be speaking with Brooklyn deli owners about the ban this afternoon, and their reasons to participate and, in some cases, remain open. Check back for updates.
You can learn more about tonight's rally, which will be held at 209 Joralemon Street, here.
Additional reporting by Jake Offenhartz.
[Update 12:30] Salim Alnemari works at Skyline Gourmet, on Willoughby Street in Downtown Brooklyn, which is participating in the protest. Shortly after noon, there were still 15 to 20 people in the store.
"You can't just kick everyone out you know? It's always busy for here," he said. "We're trying to send the message that we are part of this community, we are part of this country, and we put in work just like everybody else. We pay taxes. We are trying to say we are needed here, like everybody else."
Some, but not all, of the workers we spoke to this morning said they are being paid for their time off.
"I decided, of course they are going to get paid," said Danny Zandani, the manager at Skyline.
— rory solomon (@rorys) February 2, 2017
— Her Grand Clarity (@JSoAbove) February 2, 2017
— Lucky Tran (@luckytran) February 2, 2017