NEW YORK (NewsNation) — New York City community leaders and small business advocates gathered this weekend to rally behind a Manhattan Bodega worker accused of murder. Supporters, including Mayor Eric Adams, say 61-year-old Jose Alba acted in self-defense when he stabbed and killed 34-year-old Austin Simon on July 1.
While Alba sits at home with his family, charged with second-degree murder, his supporters are fighting to clear his name. From city leaders to business owners and community members, they all want Alba free and clear of murder charges.
Founder of the Bodega and Small Business Group Francisco Marte posted Alba’s bail. He felt it was his purpose to look out for his people.
“I’ve been so poor … and I have to do whatever I can do to help my class, my work, my bodegueros,” Marte said. “I know Jose is an honest guy. He’s a hard-working man. And I have to come to help him.”
Marte is calling for District Attorney Alvin Briggs to drop the charges against Alba.
“We believe that Jose Alba’s charges should all be dropped,” Fernando Mateo with United Bodegas of America said.
Store surveillance video shows Alba stabbing a man to death inside the bodega where he has worked for decades. The video shows the man charging Alba behind the counter and attacking him until Alba grabs a knife and stabs the man.
The deadly altercation happened after a woman tried buying food at the store, but her card was declined. She had words with Alba and left the store but quickly returned with a man, who went after Alba.
“Jose Alba has our full support,” Mateo said. “The city of New York needs more people like Jose Alba.”
Marte told NewsNation that there needs to be more police officers to combat the crime in the community.
“We are very concerned about the crime. We need more police,” Marte said. “I’ve been meeting with the police officers and we are talking. We even have a campaign that says we support the community and the NYPD. We need to work together.”
Marte is grateful for the outreach of support for Alba, but says things need to change in the community.
“We have to give the rights to police to do their jobs. We need to get those guns off the street. We need the police with the support of our elected leaders, to support the police and come together,” Marte said. “Right now, we don’t have police safety.”
The mayor is also standing with Alba, calling him a hard-working, innocent man. But Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged Alba with murder, despite claims the video shows self-defense.
“We are asking the DA Alvin Bragg to please take into consideration this footage,” Dr. Debbie Almontaser with Yemeni American Merchants Association said in a press conference.
Bragg is in his first year as district attorney. After taking office, he instructed prosecutors in his office to avoid seeking jail time for certain crimes like robbery, assault and gun possession. He was quickly labeled a pro-criminal, anti-cop, anti-public safety DA. Bragg revised his earlier ideas after much public backlash.
Now, Alba supporters hope Bragg will reconsider murder charges against a man they believe was only defending himself.
Marte said that Alba is at home, but is sad for everything going on. He never thought he’d be in that situation.
“I hope he gets that charge dropped so he can move more free, even though, he’s never going to be free from his mind because they forced him to defend himself,” Marte said.
Alba is not allowed to leave New York City, and his next court date is scheduled for July 20. Bragg can still take this case before a grand jury for possible indictment, or he can go ahead and drop the charges.