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Washington Heights businesses and livery base owners #ShutItDown on May Day

Stephon Johnson | 5/5/2017, 1:28 p.m.
Elected officials, the New York Immigration Coalition, the Bodega Association and immigrant-run small-business owners used May Day to protest President ...
May Day Rally Bill Moore photo

Elected officials, the New York Immigration Coalition, the Bodega Association and immigrant-run small-business owners used May Day to protest President Donald Trump’s immigration policies and race-based rhetoric. In Washington Heights and Inwood Monday, businesses and livery base owners closed their operations from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., during rush hour.

Their point: to demonstrate how much immigrant communities contribute to America. Damian Rodriguez, president of the Livery Base Owners Association, said that drivers for livery cabs needed to protest Trump’s policies.

“New York and this country run on immigrants, and without them, we will lose what makes the United States great,” said Rodriguez in a statement.

“This is a critical time for our country and the Trump administration must do a better job than the reckless behavior and hazardous policies put into place these first 100 days in office,” said Congressman Adriano Espaillat in a statement. “We owe it to the American people to support comprehensive immigration reform and support minority- and women-owned small businesses as we take a stand to resist Trump executive orders that attack immigrants.”

Espaillat concluded, “In our display of solidarity with immigrants and workers that have come under attack by the Trump administration, we are taking a stand to support a more vibrant and diverse future for America,”

In February, Yemeni-American Bodega owners in the New York Metropolitan Area went on strike for a day in response to Trump’s travel ban on certain majority-Muslim nations.

Issam Hassan, who organized the Yemeni bodega strike, said groups of organizers have to link up and realize their fights are similar.

“We have to learn how to effectively organize for love as well as those who organize for war and division,” stated Hassan. “We have to start crossing boundaries and building coalitions across cultural lines. We are all immigrants and we are all in it together.”

“Immigrant workers are very important to our business community,” added Quenia Abreu, president and CEP of the New York Womens’ Chamber of Commerce, in a statement. “Most of our businesses depend on immigrant workers, both documented and undocumented, and it’s important that we send a clear message to this administration that small businesses like ours are very important to the economy of this country.”

New York State Sen. Marisol Alcantara, who spent much of her adult life as a union and community organizer, said that actions that affect the economy affect society.

“As a trade unionist by profession, I understand the importance of organized economic action to drive social change,” stated Alcantara. “By striking this May Day, Uptown Manhattan will show New York City the integral part immigrants play in New York City’s economy.”