By Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech
The fight against Amazon has begun as residents, activists and elected officials gathered at Gordon Triangle in Long Island City Wednesday morning to protest the subsidies the company will receive as part of its deal with the city to establish part of its HQ2 in the neighborhood.
“I canceled my Amazon membership and I call for a boycott of Amazon,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said.
Both the senator and City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) have publicly denounced the establishment of the one of two H2Q headquarters in Long Island City (the second H2Q will be in northern Virginia). Both are outraged that the trillion-dollar company will receive nearly billions in subsidies for setting up shop in the already highly developed area.
“Just this morning several residents contacted us to say that there is no heat in Queensbridge,” Van Bramer said in front of a sea of reporters. “But somehow, those who consider themselves progressive Democrats have seen fit to throw $3 billion dollars at the richest man in the world.”
An eruption of boos punctuated the councilman’s statement.
“That is wrong and we should all be outraged at what has happened here,” he said.
Van Bramer admonished Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whom the councilman accused of making too easy of a deal with Amazon.
“Did the governor not say whatever it takes, no matter what it takes, you can even rename me after Amazon,” Van Bramer said.
Governor Cuomo offered to change his name if it would make New York City a more appealing location for their H2Q.
“Then they said we’re gonna fix the process so that they don’t have to worry about those pesky City Council members and those pesky community members who might have some problems with the deal, we’re gonna make sure we create a GPP for you and we gonna grease the wheels for the richest man in the world.”
Van Bramer and Gianaris organized the protest along with other representatives of the area and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), Alliance for a Greater New York (ALIGN), Make the Road New York (MTRNY), New York Communities for Change (NYCC). Other Queens elected officials such as state Assemblywoman-elect Catalina Cruz, state Sen.-elect Jessica Ramos, state Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria), City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) and state Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing).
Every elected official who spoke felt that the money that Amazon receive is money that could better used to serve their constituents by addressing transit, education, infrastructure and affordable housing improvements.