Anti-Amazon protestors and politicians vowed on Monday night to never stop fighting against Amazon’s HQ2 coming to Long Island City.
Councilman Jumaane Williams, Assemblyman Harvey Epstein, Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, former Speaker of the City Council Melissa Mark-Viverito along with representatives from Align, NYCC, Socialist Alternative, Make the Road, Caaav Organizing Asian Communities and RWDSU gathered in front of the Long Island City courthouse on Nov. 26.
Despite the pouring rain, the steps of the courthouse were packed with protestors holding signs that read “No to Amazon” and carrying frowning Amazon boxes. To many of the protestors, Amazon’s arrival in Long Island City will negatively impact every aspect of life.
“The people of Queens deserve better and we demand better and we will march forever until we get what we deserve,”said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.
Van Bramer spoke out again about the $500 million from the state the company will receive for setting up shop in Long Island City. Protests and outcry from elected officials will not stop until the terms of the City’s deal with Amazon are renegotiated.
Both Van Bramer and Williams signed a letter last year asking Amazon to come to New York but have come out against the deal since it was announced earlier this month. They charged that Mayor Bill de Blasio and Govenor Andrew Cuomo’s decision to bring Amazon to the city was undemocratic.
“We said we would like to have a conversation,” said Williams, who’s running for public advocate in 2019. “We heard nothing from this mayor until a couple of weeks ago and what we heard was a friggin’ helipad, three billion dollars and you’ve given away all the power of this city.I do not understand the mayor who should be the first in line protecting New York City’s power of land use especially for local elected officials.”
Williams added that a decision about Amazon that did not involve all those present during the protest was “bulls**t.”
If the city could afford to give $3 billion in tax breaks to Amazon, the lawmakers argued, then they are also capable of allotting more funds toward improvements to public housing and public transportation.
Another issue that many protestors spoke out against was Amazon’s alleged treatment of immigrants and people of color. According to The Washington Post, in the summer of this year, Amazon pitched its facial recognition software to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials as a means for them to identify immigrants. (The Washington Post is owned by Nash Holdings, a holding company created by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.)
Amazon also reportedly suffers a diversity problem within its professional ranks and is planning to come to NYC without a commitment to diversity hiring.
“Amazon benefits from terrorizing immigrants,” said Blanca Palomeque in Spanish. As a Queens resident and member of Make the Road who immigrated from Ecuador 15 years ago, she said that she could not condone Amazon’s imminent move to LIC.
“It’s an injustice,” she said.