Demonstrators take over Manhattan Amazon store in protest of Queens HQ

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Dave Evans reports on the demonstrators at the Manhattan Amazon store in protest of the Queens HQ

Protesters briefly took over the Amazon Books store on West 34th Street in Manhattan Monday afternoon in protest of the company's decision to open a headquarters in Queens.

About 50 to 75 people had planned to protest outside the store, but since the door was open, everyone poured in for a protest that lasted about 30 minutes.

Police were called but simply observed, and Amazon employees went about their regular business. Even customers basically ignored all the chanting.

A 5 p.m. rally and march was also held at Court Square Park in Long Island City, near the site of the proposed facility, but heavy rain hampered the turnout. Still, about 50 to 60 people showed up.

Amazon promised 25,000 jobs in Long Island City, along with green space and job fairs. But there is outrage over financial incentives given to Amazon that includes a more than $1.5 billion tax credit from the state, a half billion for construction and an unknown amount of city incentives that could reach over $100 million more.

"We're outraged that our city would give away $3 billion in tax breaks to the richest company in the world," said Angeles Solis, of Make the Road New York. "When our transit is falling apart."

The new deal was made with the state, giving the City Council essentially no power to change the deal.

"This is a big money maker for us," Governor Andrew Cuomo has said. "Costs us nothing."

There was intense competition to win over Amazon, with more than 100 cities across the country competing and some throwing billions in tax incentives to the company.

Amazon kicked off its hunt for a second headquarters in September 2017, initially receiving 238 proposals before narrowing the list to 20 in January.
Long Island City and Crystal City, Virginia, met Amazon's requirements for a new locale: Both are near metropolitan areas with more than a million people, have nearby international airports, direct access to mass transit and have room for the company to expand.

New York has been trying to attract more tech workers, while northern Virginia has been looking to fill its 1980s-era buildings after thousands of federal employees moved elsewhere.

Amazon said Seattle will remain as one of Amazon's three headquarters.

Even though some argue New York City won in this case, many are outraged over what the deal will mean for public transportation, housing costs and an potential impact on small business.

"I think Amazon is only going to make it worse," said Charles Khan, of the Center for Popular Democracy. "There's no reason to give them $3 billion when we have so many problems, homelessness."

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