Hundreds of Brooklynites filed into Bensonhurst Park to pay tribute to Fadhl Moosa, a 20-year-old Yemeni-American employee of a Flatbush Avenue deli who was shot and killed Tuesday night while on the job, before he was laid to rest.
Moosa’s death on Tuesday has triggered an outpouring of grief from the city’s Yemeni community, many of whom own bodegas across the five boroughs.
“Why we came today is to put to rest our beloved Fadhl Moosa, a 20-year-old Yemeni-American who had his entire life in front of him. And unfortunately on Tuesday it was taken from us,” said Debbie Almontaser, a prominent Yemeni-American activist, in remarks to the crowd. “We are not going to let his death go in vain. We are going to make sure that we don’t forget him or all of the other Yemeni bodega workers who have died in the last year-and-a-half.”
Almontaser and other speakers noted that bodega employees have borne the brunt of two twin crises in New York City: they have been essential workers since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and also operate businesses that are frequent targets for robbery. On top of that, many have family back in Yemen, which has been in the throes of a bloody civil war for years.
Police released surveillance footage of the suspect fleeing the deli after the shooting, with cash flying out of his pockets. No arrests have yet been made, but police say the man was allegedly a regular customer at the bodega.
Attorney General Letitia James, until recently a candidate for governor, told the crowd that violence in the city is not “equal-opportunity” but rather disproportionately affects communities of color, like Yemenis and African-Americans, and urged collective action.
“They are tearing communities of color apart,” James said. “It’s time to say enough. It’s time for urgent action. And it’s time to get these guns off our street.”
Additional reporting by Lloyd Mitchell