By Mark Hallum
Ridgewood-based Woodbine began organizing opposition to Amazon’s decision to land a headquarters in Long Island City’s Anable Basin with a meeting at their community space in Ridgewood on Nov. 30.
The Woodbine, at 1882 Woodbine St., is a community center for political action and civic organization led by Matt Peterson.
According to one attendee who went by the name Devin, Berlin’s Kreuzberg neighborhood became a center for immigrants and low-income bohemians who took an active role in opposing displacement from Google by occupying the space the company intended to move into and other forms of demonstration.
“They decided to move in because, in their words, they saw Kreuzberg as a hub of opportunity,” Devin said. “The way [protestors] organized was much like this actually, they had a lot of community meetings, some of them just started by having forums that were open to everybody … After that it settle into a rhythm where people then sort themselves into interests groups who would meet regularly and they would report back to these larger community forums.”
The discussion also weighed the pros and cons of boycotting Amazon as a tactic to keep make a statement against the retail giant.
It was generally agreed upon that the Amazon HQ2 would cause displacement throughout western Queens, impacting the dense immigrant communities such as Jackson Heights.
“Not only is Long Island City about to get [25,000 new job opportunities], it might be a combination of people being recruited from the city, but a lot of them are going to be moving in and lot of them are going to be moving into Jackson Heights which is one of the most diverse parts of Queens,” a woman who wished only to be identified as Shannon said. “Basically the residents of north Queens are being hit on two fronts right now.”
Transit was also topic with the well-known fact that the 7 train is well beyond capacity and is likely to only get worse as Long Island City becomes more heavily developed, especially if Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to develop over the top of Sunnyside Yards, on top of Amazon’s decision to bring 25,000 jobs to Anable Basin.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has offered Google a $3 billion tax cut for Amazon to build HQ2 in New York and Borough President Melinda Katz has backed the proposal on the condition that the company pay to create more robust infrastructure such as the Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX).
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall