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ACLU unites coffee shops for fundraiser to support immigrants, refugees

Coffee shops, including Open Eye in Carrboro, are coming together to donate part of their profits to the American Civil Liberties Union. 

Coffee shops, including Open Eye in Carrboro, are coming together to donate part of their profits to the American Civil Liberties Union. 

Caffe Driade, Open Eye Cafe, Cocoa Cinnamon, Friends’ Café and Coco Bean Coffee Shop are among over 800 participating cafes.

The fundraiser, which ended Feb. 5, was organized by Sprudge, a coffee publication based in Portland, Oregon that covers the international coffee scene.

“Like a hot mug of drip coffee spilled on a crisp white apron, these actions are a dark stain on our national conscience, and as Americans, we feel compelled to stand up against them,” Sprudge said in a statement.

Jordan Michelman, co-founder of Sprudge, said the group was inspired by other companies’ efforts to support immigrants and refugees — and to expand their usual coverage.

“As a journalist, how am I supposed to publish a story about a cute cafe when all of this horrible shit is happening?” he said.

The publication said Trump’s executive order affecting refugees from seven majority-Muslim nations is immoral and un-American.

“Refugees can’t come to America right now which, to me, personally, I think is against everything we stand for as Americans,” Michelman said.

Sprudge, which will match the first $500 raised by each company, reached out to several coffee shops who showed explicit interest. Michelman said the number of businesses hoping to be involved has grown tremendously.

The fundraiser does not have to do with being a Republican or a Democrat, he said.

Rook Grubbs, a barista at Caffe Driade, said their company provides a space for people of all backgrounds, beliefs and identities to commune.

“How could we not take a stand in solidarity with immigrants and refugees?” Grubbs said.

Molly Rivera, a spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina said the organization is grateful for the support, as their national office continues to monitor the effects of Trump’s executive order.

“I think we’ve seen already in the first couple of weeks of the new administration that people are ready to come together and fight for people’s rights,” Rivera said.

Michelman said the ACLU is explicitly non-partisan and has defended cases concerning the country’s Constitution and the Bill of Rights since 1920.

Reiko Piekarski, general manager of Open Eye Cafe, said the company wanted to uphold the Carrboro Coffee Roasters’ tagline, “Coffee Unites the World.”

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“It was only natural to participate in a fundraiser for a civil liberties cause,” Piekarski said.

Piekarsi said the business is a safe place for all people.

“To turn these people away in efforts to make a country great again, just doesn’t seem to make any sense when we already make the country great as it is,” Piekarski said.