By Jonathan Sperling
A group of activists protesting Amazon’s proposed second headquarters in Long Island City took to the streets yesterday to denounce the e-commerce giant on one of its most popular days: Cyber Monday.
Make the Road New York, New York Communities for Change and an array of other organizations engaged in a two-part day of action — first in Manhattan’s Herald Square and later at Court Square Park in LIC. The protests come on the heels of Amazon’s announcement that will establish a new corporate headquarters in LIC and the revelation that the corporation will receive roughly $3 billion in subsidies from the city and state.
“For the modest sum of $3 billion dollars, Amazon will come to your city, displace you, side with ICE and get the subway system to collapse once and for all!” New York Communities For Change said in a statement on Twitter Monday. “We have made our message loud and clear, we want Amazon OUT OF HERE! #HQ2Scam #NoAmazonNYC.”
Community organizers also highlighted Amazon’s record of “mistreating workers” and “collaborating with ICE to enable deportations of immigrants.” Amazon has aggressively pitched its facial recognition technology to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.
"On Cyber Monday, a day that is typically devoted to frantic gift buying as retailers ramp up for the holiday season, we are saying no to Amazon. Amazon has killed off local retailers, small businesses and decent jobs across the country. This year, they are working to deposit a corporate hub in the heart of Long Island City, in the most diverse county in the world,” Make the Road New York Co-Director Deborah Axt told the Eagle. “Today, we saw the beginnings of a rising movement to say we will protect our working families, and immigrants, not corrupt billionaires.”
At around 12:30 p.m. during the Herald Square demonstration, protesters stormed into Amazon’s bookstore on 34th Street.
Later in the day, activists planned to demonstrate in Court Square Park — located in front of the Civil Courthouse on Jackson Ave. between Court Square and Thomson Avenue — for a rally. At around 6:30 p.m., demonstrators planned to head to the Long Island City office of 37th District Assemblymember Catherine Nolan. Nolan, whose district covers parts of LIC and Astoria, came out in support of Amazon’s new HQ earlier this month.
“Long Island City has been the beating heart of New York City since the modern city began at the turn of the last century. With this announcement, our community is again poised to be the most successful mixed use neighborhood in New York" Nolan said in a statement.
A source familiar with the development of the new HQ confirmed to the Eagle earlier this month that Amazon plans to make its home at 44th Drive between the East River and Vernon Boulevard. The area encompasses most of the Long Island City Innovation Center proposal, the Department of Education building and some of the Plaxall development, near Anable Basin.
Margaret Waterman, an Amazon spokesperson, told the Eagle in an email that Amazon’s new campus, “will be around Anable Basin” but did not offer any further details.
Questions pertaining to the headquarters’ effect on the Queens community, including a response to local officials’ concerns, went unanswered and were met with a referral to an Amazon blog post announcement.