Protesters marched in New York City on Monday to protest Amazon HQ2, the online retailer’s new office, half of which will be located in Long Island City, Queens.
Carrying signs in English and Spanish and brown cardboard boxes depicting Amazon’s arrow smiley face logo with the arrow pointed down into a frown, protestors marched into Amazon’s brick-and-mortar Manhattan store on 34th Street before heading back out into the rain to continue marching into the evening.
At issue is the $3 billion tax break the city awarded Amazon in exchange for setting up shop in NYC. Amazon is a billion-dollar company, some say due to its longstanding strategy to skirt sales taxes in addition to negotiating for major subsidies in its new locations across the country in exchange for the local jobs it promises to provide.
But opponents have also noted that taxes help pay for the city’s basic infrastructure upkeep. One example: the city’s beleaguered public transit system, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), which already regularly experiences breakdowns and delays so severe that it was a major campaign issue during the 2018 New York gubernatorial primary.
Affordable housing is another concern. Already, condo sales in Long Island City are skyrocketing, and interest in the area’s real estate market is only expected to climb as Amazon looks to begin hiring for the New York office in 2019.
In addition to impacts to the housing market and mass transit, protestors noted that New York is a city of immigrants and took issue with Amazon’s relationship with United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Monday’s protests may not come as a total surprise, given how the local community has reacted to the news so far. Incoming New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has said Queens residents are “outraged” over their new corporate neighbor.