Berkeley businesses participate in National Day of Action strike

Mikaela Raphael/Senior Staff

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Local businesses closed their doors Friday for the National Day of Action — a general strike against President Donald Trump’s administration.

The Day of Action was dedicated to mobilizing against the recent policies created by the Trump administration, which include the deportation of immigrants, the immigration ban on seven Muslim-majority countries and the defunding of public education. This movement comes just a day after A Day Without Immigrants, which aimed to show what a community would look like if it did not have any immigrants.

Moe’s Books was one of the businesses that closed its doors to express solidarity with individuals who feel concerned for the future of their country under Trump’s presidency. According to Doris Moskowitz, the owner of Moe’s Books, staff members unanimously agreed to close the store for the day.

“I hope to show some solidarity for people who are worried about where their country’s going,” Moskowitz said. “We must stand up for the truth instead of manipulation.”

This is the first public political statement Moe’s Books has made since its opening in 1959, Moskowitz said. She added that Moe’s Books tries to be neutral on most issues, but this was an issue she felt the business had to get politically involved in.

Moskowitz took over the store after her father’s death 20 years ago. She said her father would have supported her decision because he was a pacifist who did not believe in war or violence.

La Peña Cultural Center was closed Thursday and Friday, in observation of both A Day Without Immigrants and National Day of Action.

“(We want to) show a sign of solidarity of immigrants and the atrocities that the Trump administration has thrown since day one. We want to show that we are with the people,” said Natalia Neira, communications director for La Peña. “Even though we’re not at work, we can self-reflect of how we can come together as a community.”

Neira added that she planned to use the day off to reach out to other organizations that participated in the Day of Action so they could organize together. She said she wanted to ask the businesses what their employees need to work on creating a “know your rights” session in various languages.

“Today is a day to participate in the strike but also work with building community,” Neira said.

La Peña was opened in 1975 by Chilean refugees as a reaction against the 1973 Chilean coup d’état, according to Neira. Because of its history, Neira said staff members knew they had to mobilize against the injustices perpetrated by the Trump administration.

While some people shut their doors for the day, others organized a protest in solidarity.

Members of By Any Means Necessary, or BAMN, gathered in front of Sproul Hall to demonstrate their commitment to keep UC Berkeley a “sanctuary campus.” The protesters chanted, “No ban, no wall, sanctuary for us all.”

Adarene Hoag, UC Berkeley alumna and BAMN member, said most protesters —  especially immigrants — participated in the Day of Action simply by staying home from work or school. She added that the protest gave a voice to those who silently participated and was intended to spread the message that immigrants are welcome here.

BAMN organizer Yvette Felarca, who also attended the protest, said she thought it was important to hold the National Day of Action after A Day Without Immigrants.

“We wanted to hold a Day of Action today to build the movement,” Felarca said. “It’s an important time in the movement. … Rain or shine, the protest will go on.”

Other campus organizations, however, disagreed with the protest.

David Craig, treasurer of Berkeley College Republicans, attended the protest to critique BAMN’s demands. He said although he disagreed with BAMN’s views, he was willing to engage in discussions with the organization to address their difference of opinions.

“We can have a conversation together and people come and talk to us at our tent on Sproul,” Craig said. “Everyone is welcome to come to the table.”

Although Neira did not participate in the protest, she said La Peña would “absolutely like to take action again,” adding that the Day of Action was just the beginning of its opposition to the Trump administration.

“We’re letting people in power know, in a soft, kind warning, that the people have power, and if you keep messing with us, we’re going to fight back. These strikes have made me the most hopeful,” Neira said. “It’s a show of solidarity and to identify other organizations that are also willing to put up a fight so we can create a more organized community.”

Contact Jessica Jimenez and Ella Jensen at [email protected].