Faneuil Hall Shopkeepers of Color Targeted and Criminalized

Economic Justice, Racial Justice

Lawyers for Civil Rights Demands Redress for Unfairly Treated Merchants of Color at Faneuil Hall

Cease and Desist Letter Details Unfair and Deceptive Practices that Faneuil Hall Management Company Has Aimed at Minority Small Businesses, and Calls For Immediate Amends

Lawyers for Civil Rights (“LCR”) issued a cease and desist letter to Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation (“AAC”), Faneuil Hall’s property management company, outlining a pattern of discriminatory, unfair, and deceptive practices targeting shopkeepers of color.  The letter calls on AAC to cease those practices, which raise serious legal concerns of targeted discriminatory and tortious misconduct.

LCR sent the demand letter on behalf of three shopkeepers of color who operate push cart shops at Boston’s Faneuil Hall Marketplace: Guangyi Xiang, Xin Claire Li, and Fuad Mukarker. 

The shopkeepers have endured an egregious pattern of unfair and deceptive conduct by AAC—including calling the police in an effort to criminalize them without justification.  The responding police officers determined that it wasn’t a police matter, but the stunt intimidated the shopkeepers. They no longer feel safe and reasonably believe that any attempt to resolve differences with AAC will be met with dangerous and unwarranted escalation.

AAC has also undermined the shopkeepers of color by consigning their push cart businesses to poor sales locations at Faneuil Hall through various forms of deception and coercion. AAC has deliberately and intentionally interfered with the shopkeepers’ business operations. Since the shopkeepers are all immigrants of color, the racial and ethnic dynamics at play raise the specter of unlawful discrimination.

As small business owners with modest resources, the shopkeepers of color face a serious power imbalance in their dealings with AAC, a large real estate firm known nationally and in Boston for its controversial treatment of tenants.   

“Faneuil Hall is one of Boston’s most historically significant landmarks, a symbol of freedom from oppression, and a major tourist attraction for the City,” said Jacob Love, a Staff Attorney at Lawyers for Civil Rights. “Lawyers for Civil Rights cannot and will not tolerate any improper targeting of its minority-owned businesses.”

AAC’s treatment of the shopkeepers is unacceptable and implicates Massachusetts’ anti-discrimination and unfair trade practice laws.  The cease and desist letter not only seeks to secure amends for the shopkeepers—including reinstatement to their rightful cart locations— but also to prevent the unfair treatment of Faneuil Hall’s minority-owned businesses going forward. 

As part of this process, LCR and the shopkeepers are eager to establish new policies for handling grievances at Boston’s Faneuil Hall Marketplace, including the robust investigation of vendor-related complaints. 

The cease and desist letter is available here: