A week after 2018’s Election Day, residents of New York City were hit with the news of Long Island City as the chosen location for the new Amazon HQ2. With this unveiling, horrendous details of this deal between Andrew Cuomo and Jeff Bezos’s tax evading company began to make headlines. Not only was Amazon coming to Long Island City, a section of Queens undergoing rapid gentrification, the company was being granted up to 3 billion dollars in state subsidized grants: NEW YORK TAXPAYER MONEY. Amazon avoided paying taxes in 2018 and it has been reported that they will avoid paying taxes again in 2019 despite making double the profits they had last year:
According to a report published by the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy Wednesday, the e-tail/retail/tech entertainment/everything giant won’t have to pay a cent in federal taxes for the second year in a row. This tax-free break comes even though Amazon almost doubled its US profits from $5.6 billion to $11.2 billion between 2017 and 2018. To top it off, Amazon actually reported a $129 milion 2018 federal income tax rebate—making its tax rate -1%. – Fortune, 2019
One of the richest men in the world, notorious tax evader, was being given 3 billion dollars in CORPORATE WELFARE. On top of it, the Amazon HQ2 would’ve had a helipad in exchange for 25,000 jobs and “job training” for NYCHA residents in the area. All of this would’ve been located next to Queensbridge Houses, the largest project complex in the country. With the news of this, the pushback from local grassroots organizations and coalitions such as Queens Anti-Gentrification, Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), CAAV, Fuck Off Amazon, and several more was enough to scare the corporate giants away from Queens. These organizations and coalitions were able to organize the people in Long Island City to mobilize against Amazon by petitioning, rallying, interrupting city council meetings, and employing tactics that applied pressure on city officials, state officials and the company itself. In Amazon’s statement on their decision to not follow through with HQ2 in LIC, the negative response from “state and local politicians” is pointed as the primary reason:
After much thought and deliberation, we’ve decided not to move forward with our plans to build a headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens. For Amazon, the commitment to build a new headquarters requires positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long-term. While polls show that 70% of New Yorkers support our plans and investment, a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City.” – Amazon, 2019.
Somehow the long struggle fought by the members of the community isn’t mentioned. This trend is also seen in the cover article of the New York Daily News titled “Amazon Killers,” which features New York state politicians who opposed Amazon and blames them solely for the company’s departure.
Although these politicians were vocal about their disdain for Amazon and the bad deal it was for New York City, they were NOT the ones who were foot on the ground and bringing the community together against the cause. With the people pushing Amazon away, only the bourgeois capitalists are the ones hurt and scared about the deal falling through. Real estate agents and tech companies alike are fearful about what the future holds as one of the biggest companies folded from the backlash. Real estate agents were depending on the “Amazon effect” to boom housing which would result in millions for these leeches. The same housing that natives local to the area would never be able to afford. They were banking on Amazon to attract more gentrifiers to an area that’s already affected by gentrification at rapid rates.
“I’m certainly disappointed. It’s been a really surprising morning, to be honest,” said Lauren Renee Bennett, a broker for Corcoran who has serviced the area for the past six years, and lived there more than a decade.She told CNN Business she recently had five contracts that were sent out within a one week period, and all were signed in “record time,” because of the boom. She was even featured in the New York Post for quickly selling several condos in the area after Amazon’s announcement in November.She estimated there had been a total of $8 million worth of real estate deals with signed contracts, as well as another $4 million to $5 million currently in negotiations.Bennett was hardly the only one who saw a sudden change in the market. – KXLY, 2019
Tech companies are also fearful about what the future hold for them in New York City and big cities around the country. These same companies are the ones who import gentrifiers and in turn create little utopias for them in conjunction with real estate agencies:
“I think it’s a continuing trend of how companies are running smack into the face of communities they have ignored,” contended Li. “The reality is when you move into a city, you have to build relationships. But Amazon basically marched in with an attitude of, ‘Hey, you will be lucky to get us.’ What we are seeing is tech companies are no longer the knight in shining armor. ‘Oh, let me bestow my benevolence upon you’ — 25,000 jobs — but only if you do my bidding.” – Yahoo, 2019
Charlene Li has the right idea. In Amazon’s statement they claimed that about 70 percent of New Yorkers were in favor of their move to Long Island City, but the pushback from the local organizations, coalitions and residents proved that this isn’t the case. These communities should always have a say in what they want because they are the ones who are affected greatly by developments of gentrifications. These effects are never beneficial to the residents of these neighborhoods. As much as publications, politicians, capitalists and all those alike refuse to acknowledge the strength in the organization of working-class people, it is THE COLLECTIVE POWER OF WORKING-CLASS PEOPLE OF QUEENS WHO GAINED THE VICTORY! YOU CANNOT DENY OR IGNORE THE PEOPLE! IT IS MORE OF US THAN IT IS OF THE BOURGEOIS CLASS! LET IT BE KNOW THAT THE WORKING-CLASS IS NOT FUCKING AROUND! WHEN WE SAY GET THE FUCK OUT, WE MEAN IT!