They stand united.
That was the message outside Brooklyn Borough Hall as an estimated 5,000 Yemeni-Americans and other supporters attended a rally to protest President Donald Trump’s executive order barring entry to immigrants and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries to the United States.
An estimated 1,000 Yemeni-owned New York City bodegas and grocery stores shut their doors on Thursday, February 2 from 12 to 8 p.m. as part of the protest. Many of the employees were at the rally, held on the same day at 5 p.m.
The protest featured approximately a half hour of prayer and speeches by elected officials as protesters waved American flags, as well as those of countries affected by the travel ban, held up signs, and chanted “U.S.A.”
“This (day) is to show us immigrants that we care about our rights and we have to protest for a reason and that is because this feels like a Muslim ban,” said attendee Khaled Muthama. “I’m proud of all the immigrants that are here. We’re doing a lot of things to protect our freedom. It just makes us feel good.”
“We’re teachers of immigrants and it’s really important for us to support them,” added a teacher at a local school. “Our school has a large Yemeni population and we see how it’s affecting them directly and we want to make sure we support them all as teachers. Some of our students are here as well and they helped us make the signs.”
Azure Rae, who brought her two children Liam and Jack, was proud to be at the rally. “We are here to show support to the people that are here,” she said. “It’s very peaceful and I’ve been thanked for being here a few times and it’s meaningful to me that I came out here today showing that we do care.”
“I just want to stand for what we believe in,” said Faiadh Alawadhy, who works at a bodega. “I stand against the ban on Muslims and the wall.”
Following the prayers, Borough President Eric Adams was the first of the belected officials to speak. “Today is our day,’ he said. “We are here to protest, to pray, and show that we are patriotic. We too are Americans and we demand to be treated as Americans. Today in closing your businesses, you are sending a clear, loud message to America that you have the right and your families have the right to be part of the American dream. Show your strength. You have the right to show what America stands for. You too are American.”
Councilmember Vincent Gentile also stood with the Yemeni-American community. “I wish the State Department could see us in New York tonight,” he said. “I wish Homeland Security could see all the immigrants here tonight. I wish the White House could see all of us here tonight. They would see how far they have drifted from America’s values of opening our arms to immigrants like you and me.”
“I have a message for Donald Trump,” added Comptroller Scott Stringer. “And that message is you as the president have an obligation to support the Constitution of the United States. You have an obligation to support all of our people. You cannot and will not attempt to divide this country and separate us because we are one city and one America.”
“This is a country built by immigrants and together we are strong,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “New York City’s bodega owners are bravely shutting their doors to oppose the president’s shameful executive order. I stand with them.
Councilmember Carlos Menchaca also had a message for the president. “Donald Trump, you work for us,” he said. “No ban. No wall. We are united. And we will stand up and fight back.”