Anti-Amazon advocates, emboldened by rumors that the billion-dollar deal to bring the online retailer to Queens is on the rocks, delivered their message Saturday directly to the residents of the Queensbridge Houses.
Dozens of demonstrators bundled up and knocked on doors at the largest public housing development in the country, seeking to drum up opposition to the company’s planned Long Island City campus.
“The Amazon propaganda of ‘we’re bringing jobs’ is pretty thin. People are realizing that the jobs are not for them,” said Deborah Axt, the co-director of Make the Road New York. “We found today that the same issues resonated with us on the doors today — gentrification, forcing rent up, jamming our schools — and then expecting us to pay for them to create jobs.”
Axt and a small army of volunteers were joined by vocal Amazon opponents state Sen. Michael Gianaris and City Council member James Van Bramer, who have both argued against the $3 billion in tax breaks and grants the company is lined up to receive.
Both Queens Democrats believe the subsidies are too generous despite the 25,000 new jobs Amazon may bring to the neighborhood — and have taken heat from Gov. Cuomo over their stance.
“At this point Amazon has proven that they are a bad actor and don’t want to act respond like a responsible corporation,” Gianaris said. “Too much power has been concentrated in the hands of big corporations and the people are sick of it.”
On Friday, Cuomo warned opponents against “political pandering” after The Washington Post reported that Amazon is having second thoughts about setting up camp in Queens.
“It is irresponsible to allow political opposition to overcome sound government policy,” he said.
Residents of the Queensbridge Houses were split on the idea of Amazon setting up shop next door, with about 400 signing off on a petition passed around by activists Saturday.
“I think it’s good for the people around here, they need jobs.” said Adrian Welch, 36, a New York City Housing Authority employee.
Denise LaChappelle, 29, a student at Brooklyn College, said she’s worried about the area gentrifying.