A total of 75 people signed up to speak at the Dec. 6 Community Board 2 meeting in Sunnyside. Almost all of them used their turn at the mic to ask the board to write a letter rejecting Amazon with “no concessions and no negotiations.”
“We need a democratic process with community input and frankly, it’s alarming that any development like this can be pushed through without our state senator, council member and community board’s knowledge. This feels like we’re living in an autocracy,” said Sunnyside’s Thomas Muccioli, one of the many to take the microphone that evening.
In 2019, the company is scheduled to begin the process of opening a new hub in Long Island City. Ever since the company announced its impending arrival, anti-Amazon activists and community members have rallied against giant corporation.
Those at the CB2 meeting in opposition of its arrival cited reports about the company’s alleged mistreatment of workers, collaboration with ICE and the city and state’s decision to exclude local Queens politicians in the decision to bring Amazon to borough as reason’s to protest.
Talks about the megadeal at the Dec. 6 meeting really began after Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s chief of staff, Matt Wallace, reiterated the lawmaker’s anti-Amazon stance and refusal to be a part of the companies community advisory board. Van Bramer was among a number of lawmakers who signed onto a letter last year supporting Amazon in Long Island City, but voiced opposition to the plans announced last month.
“We think we can have a louder voice on the outside of a sham committee than on the inside,” Wallace said.
But two members of the community board expressed concern that the councilman would not be a part of Amazon’s community advisory board and even called it an “abdication” of his duties.
The fear is that without Van Bramer on the board, the community would lose a means to monitor Amazon’s plans and provide feedback or outcry.
“Just because your finger in the dike isn’t going to stop the flood, doesn’t mean you don’t try to do it,” said Community Board 2 member Patrick O’Brien.
According to a spokesperson from Van Bramer’s office, the lawmaker will be “continue to will continue to be involved in every level, raise his voice, and be heard on all issues related to Amazon. He does not need to be a member of the advisory council to have influence or be heard.”