Make the Road NY, NY Communities for Change, VOCAL-NY and CAAAV Protest Deal to Build Amazon HQ2 at Long Island City, Reported by am New York

Posted on November 27, 2018

Amazon HQ2 protesters swarm Herald Square bookstore

Originally Published in am New York on November 26, 2018
Written by Ivan Pereira and Lisa L. Colangelo

Angry New Yorkers took to the streets to protest Amazon on Cyber Monday, with only one item on their wishlist this year: Don’t ruin the Big Apple. Members of several unions and community activists marched to the tech giant’s bookstore on West 34th Street to decry its plan to build a massive headquarters in Queens. The crowd of about 100 people included representatives from Make the Road New York and New York Communities for Change. They charged Amazon’s presence in Long Island City will further gentrify the area, limit affordable housing options and increase the wealth gap.

“There are so many inequalities… Amazon will bring more of that to our city,” Jason Walker from VOCAL-NY said. “We demand a city we can afford.” Nearly two weeks ago, Amazon announced that it cut a deal with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio to bring HQ2 to Long Island City, and develop a $2.5 billion, 4 million-square-foot campus in western Queens. The move would generate 25,000 new jobs and the state gave over $2.8 billion in tax benefits as part of the deal. “We’re outraged New York City gave away $3 billion dollars to the richest man in the world,” said Angeles Solis, an organizer with Make the Road NY.

State Sen. Michael Gianaris and City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, two Queens lawmakers who represent Long Island City, have also led opposition to the deal, saying the community was left out of the negotiations. “There is no amount of taxes that Amazon can make to offset the costs from the displacement they will cause,” said Sasha Wijeyeratne, an organizer with CAAAV, which works with low-income Asian-American communities. “This will impact Queens first… Queens residents should have a voice about what happens in their borough.”

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