A grassroots campaign that calls for Hispanics stay home from work and boycott Charlotte businesses on Thursday has gained momentum with news that the city’s Compare Foods grocery store chain will not open for the day.
Compare Foods is among 18 businesses in the city that are reportedly staying closed Thursday for a protest called “A Day Without Latinos,” including Sav-Way grocery store and Las Delicias Bakery, both on Central Avenue.
All seven Compare Foods stores in Charlotte and Monroe will close for the day, said a statement posted on Facebook.
A Day Without Latinos calls for Hispanics and their supporters to boycott stores, avoid restaurants and not send their children to schools on Thursday. A rally is scheduled at noon Thursday, in uptown’s Marshall Park on East Third Street.
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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools urged parents to send their children to school on Thursday.
“While we are extremely sensitive to challenges that some of our families are facing, we are asking you to talk with your children about the expectations we have for them at their school and the importance of attending school each day,” CMS said in a message to parents.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have assured Superintendent Ann Clark “that schools and school bus stops are safe from any immigration law enforcement activity involving our students,” CMS said.
In a statement on Facebook, Compare said that “after many conversations with our customers, Compare Foods management decided to unite completely on Immigrant Day by closing all Compare Foods supermarkets in Charlotte.”
“We are suggesting to our employees and clients that they join the activities planned for that day, including demonstrations at Marshall Park in downtown Charlotte. Our commitment is with the Latino community of Charlotte. We are proud to support our community in whatever way they think is best for achieving our shared goals.”
Charlotte’s Spanish language newspaper Qué Pasa Mi Genti says other businesses on South Boulevard and Central Avenue will close their doors for A Day Without Latinos. It didn’t name specific businesses. The newspaper says a group called Collective Community has been passing out pamphlets promoting the Charlotte event.
Wilmington is reportedly also having A Day Without Latinos protest Thursday.
A similar event held Monday in Milwaukee, Wis., reportedly convinced 150 businesses to close and drew participation from an estimated 30,000 demonstrators
The boycotts come at a time when many Latino activists fear the presidency of Donald Trump will usher in a period when the nation adheres more strictly to its immigration laws.
Under the Obama administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement focused its resources on arresting undocumented immigrants who were guilty of crimes, while leaving low profile undocumented immigrants unhindered to live illegally in the country.
ICE officials said that same approach was used last week, when agents arrested about 100 people in both Carolinas who have a criminal background. Some had also been previously deported.
However, widespread rumors on social media – most of them unfounded – convinced many in the Latino immigrant community that the arrests were indiscriminate and involved raids and roadblocks. ICE has denied using raids and roadblocks.
Immigrant advocates believe as many as 21 people have been arrested in Charlotte. ICE has declined to contradict that number.