All the Dominican Grocers Association members and supporters demanded to STOP THE INSECURITY. Philadelphia City Hall. (Photo: Lili Daliessio)

Philadelphia, PA- On September 27th, 2023, at 7:30 a.m., the Dominican Grocery Association started a peaceful protest at Love Park and went around Philadelphia City Hall. Their united voices said, «ENOUGH IS ENOUGH; WE ONLY WANT TO WORK.» Enough of the abuses, the violence, the crimes, and the abuse by tobacco and license inspectors. «We are united for a change,» said Enerolina Melendez, the President of the DGA (Dominican Grocers Association), opening the march.

«We are here to demand the city and the authorities give us what is already our citizen right by law. We pay taxes. I started in this city in 1998, and I see that all my sacrifice is in the hands of criminals. The city employees who are not doing their job, like the licensed inspectors and others, should resign because we are not criminals. We only want to work and contribute to our families and this city.» 

Frank Rosario, the community outreach and secretary of DGA, mentioned all the loss of lives of grocers doing their job. For him, it is impossible to take what has been happening for decades anymore, and no one is helping them stop the violence against hard workers. The message is clear: they will not support those not supporting them and plan to bring safety, respect, and resources to solve their daily issues. «During the pandemic, we were essential workers, and now we do not anymore, and they do not care about us. We are essential to the economy of this city. We work to pay taxes.» 

On their way to City Hall, the Pacific protest stopped for a few moments, and each time, they had testimonials of many grocers and their families who experienced violence, abuse, neglect, and not renewing their tobacco licenses. 

The surviving wife of Jose Alberto Almonte Garcia expressed how painful it was to lose her husband, and after almost two months, they didn’t receive any information about it. She feels that everywhere she goes is danger. «I feel unsafe going to the grocery, hair salon, or school and think about my fourth children’s pain because they don’t have their father here. I am not here only for my husband but for all the families living the same thing.» 

Also, they make sure the elected officials and City Mayor Jim Kenney listen to what they demand and let them know they are an educated community that respects the law and deserves to be treated the right way.

Despite the violence that happened last night in the city, different community members went to support this Pacific protest and let the DGA know they were not alone and would be there for them, including corridor manager Angel Ballesteros from The Mexican Association of Businesses in Philadelphia, who came to support and said that what is happening to the Dominican grocers also is happening to their community, and the only way to solve it is to be united.

Eddy Irizarry Sr, who came despite his pain over the dismissal of charges in the death of his son Eddy Irizarry Jr., said, «I support DGA because they are not being supported by the police and the government like me and my family. The police and the government are supposed to protect us and are not doing their job. The violence is not only in the streets; the violence is in the government, and we need to change the government to see a better future. I do not agree with those who destroy local shops, and our Pacific protest has nothing to do with them.

I invite those who destroy local shops to start destroying the government, not local citizens’ shops who are doing the right things for their families. We are going to continue demanding JUSTICE FOR OUR SON. While the elected officials and the mayor sleep well, we live a life of violence. I would like to know how they will feel if their family gets killed or their business doesn’t receive the support they need. They need to feel what we are feeling to understand our pain. We are grateful for those who are with us.» 

Ultimately, Elizabeth Rodriguez, DGA’s vice president, invites all the grocers and the community to continue demanding what the community needs and not to be treated as second-class citizens. «This is just the beginning of this moment; we do not want more false promises. We demand actions.» 

If you want to know more about DGA and support them, here is their Instagram account @dominicangrocersassociation.

Lili Daliessio is the Community Information Manager at Esperanza Housing and Economic Development.


Por favor ingrese su comentario!
Por favor ingrese su nombre aquí