About 30 protesters associated with the group Defend Boyle Heights (DBH) a rapidly gentrifying enclave of Los Angeles tried to shut down the grand opening of a new coffee shop, all because the owner is a supporter of President Donald Trump and allegedly holds “anti-immigrant” views.
The protesters held signs and screamed at patrons in front of Asher Caffe & Lounge located in Boyle Heights, a traditionally Jewish neighborhood that is now predominately Latino. “So what’s the connection? This is what I don’t understand. I’m confused — the connection between Donald Trump and good coffee,” the cafe owner, Israeli-born businessman Asher Shalom said.
Protesters carried signs with messages ranging from “Racism not kosher in Boyle Heights” to “Gentrification not welcome,” while loudly chanting to drivers passing by and those who arrived for the shop’s grand opening. Protesters chanted “Say it loud, say it clear, immigrants are welcome here” and shouted “Gentries get the f*ck out.”
Hood Alert!!!!!! In a time of crisis for our immigrant community we have to do whatever is in our power to stand in…
Shalom legally immigrated to the United States 30 years ago and currently employs 65 immigrants. Shalom’s son David Shalom insisted that his father “is not a racist.”
He added: “He loves his immigrant employees and friends. He is an immigrant himself. Also, he supports legal immigration and promotes it — not illegal immigration though.”
The group shouted at and surround cars entering the business’s parking lot. Police officers guarded the customers, making sure they would get in and out safely. “It was very scary,” said Shalom’s daughter Yael. “There was a lot of people protesting outside wearing masks […] and they threw a significant amount of feces at our windows.”
#BoyleHeights says GTFO to Trump Cafe Asher Cafe and Lounge
Posted by Defend Boyle Heights on Thursday, 12 July 2018
Shalom came to the United States 30 years ago and is now a U.S. citizen. Shalom has received two proclamations honoring him from L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar and County Supervisor Hilda Solis – both represent Boyle Heights.
A few days before the protest, the Boyle Heights Chamber of Commerce rescinded Shalom’s membership and returned his paid dues. Jennifer Lahoda, the Chamber’s president, said that action was taken because of a pair of anti-immigrant posts on Shalom’s Facebook page that chamber members were made aware of.
“We rescinded his membership Tuesday because of public statements he made regarding immigrants that are not in line with the chamber’s values and objectives,” Lahoda said.
Despite the controversy, Asher Caffe was busy Wednesday with people who support Shalom and his right to his political opinions.
“I don’t think politics should get in the way of good food,” said one woman.
“I support him, in that I will come and give him my business,” another patron said.