amazon hq2 in queens

Protestors unfurled anti-Amazon banners from the balcony of a hearing room during a New York City Council Finance Committee hearing titled 'Amazon HQ2 Stage 2: Does the Amazon Deal Deliver for New York City Residents?' 

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After business leaders, union heads and some politicians penned an open letter to Jeff Bezos asking him to reconsider canceling the Amazon HQ2 in Queens plan, community groups and activists have countered with their own letter that they say more accurately represents resident concerns about the tech giant.

In a full-page ad that appeared in Friday’s New York Times, CEOs, higher education officials, union presidents and more wrote that “New Yorkers do not want to give up” on the promised benefits of HQ2 in Queens.

But in their counter letter, more than 90 community groups sat that that plea “does not accurately reflect the desires of immigrant communities, working-class communities, and communities of color.”

“Amazon left the first time around because of fierce vocal opposition, and that opposition still remains,” the letter, published on Medium, reads. “We defeated them recently, and we will do it again.”

 

Groups including ALIGN-NY, Hate Free Zones Queens, Jobs with Justice, Make the Road New York and more signed the letter.

Though the New York Times ad highlighted Amazon’s promise of 25,000 jobs with the reality of an HQ2 in Queens, the community groups’ counter letter says that “Amazon made little commitment to local hiring and promised just 30 jobs for public housing residents.”

The letter criticized the “backroom deal,” made while, they say, the city is facing more pressing issues like “deplorable” public housing conditions, an increase in New Yorkers sleeping in shelters, an unreliable MTA and “crumbling” public schools desperately in need of aid.

“As New Yorkers we believe every person has the right to good union jobs, safe and dignified affordable housing, strong and stable communities, a great public education, and a voice in our democracy,” they wrote. “Because of these values, we must oppose Governor Cuomo’s failed economic development policies that give more power over our communities’ futures to billionaires and their corporations.”

Amid plea for Amazon HQ2 in Queens, Cuomo butts heads with Make the Road

Though the Friday open letter called on Bezos to bring Amazon HQ2 back to Queens. Gov. Andrew Cuomo himself said on Friday that he has “no indication” the company is reconsidering its decision.

When asked on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show about the counter arguments to HQ2 in Queens by Make the Road, Cuomo said that he did not know who the organization was.

The prominent immigrant rights group has long been a part of the anti-Amazon fight. Cuomo has previously been pictured with Make the Road Co-Executive Director Deborah Axt and has mentioned the organization in multiple press releases.

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“Of course the governor knows who Make the Road is,” Javier Valdes, co-executive director, said on Lehrer’s show Monday morning. “He has partnered with us and has done some work [with us.] To me it’s actually very absurd and offensive that he did that.”

Valdes and Axt both appeared on WNYC on Monday to counter Cuomo’s claims and to reiterate why they are against the Amazon HQ2 in Queens.

“We have seen no evidence that this corporation is anything but predatory,” said Axt. “This corporation has built an entire model on tax avoidance, undermining jobs like teachers, firefighters...this company is destroying smaller businesses on its platform, local brick-and-mortar businesses as well.”

When asked if Make the Road wants “high-paying industries” to avoid or leave the city, Axt said no, that’s not it.

“Want we want is to reclaim our democracy and our economy so that we can really think through what kind of rent protections will enable our families to stay in our communities, what kind of protection for small businesses facing predatory businesses like Amazon will help to keep our local bodega open and our local diner available,” she added, “so that we can continue to have the kind of New York that we’ve had in the past with people from all over the world thriving and living together.”

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