Filed under: Capitalism, Community Organizing, Editorials, Gentrification, Northeast, Technology
This statement has been developed by residents of the Empire State’s “ground zeroes,” Upstate New York’s hundreds of economically-ravaged communities. Having been left out of the discussion surrounding Amazon’s proposed HQ2 development in Queens, we hope to provide a silenced regional perspective on Big Tech’s plans to encroach into our state. Written by Upstate Anti-Amazon ACTION.
Foremost, we stand indignant in the face of a corrupt state government that has spent millions to secure a multi-billion dollar corporation’s colonization of a Queens neighborhood without input from our communities. Since the sitting governor took power, he has undoubtedly left our towns deprived and neglected. Make no mistake: his audacity to cozy up with Bezos while our people continue to suffer has only cemented upstate disdain towards his arrogant rule.
“It’s utterly abominable that tax revenues derived in part from the meagerly paychecks of low-income folks will enrich the coffers of a heinously wealthy corporation if HQ2 gains final approval.”
Further, we reject a state executive that offers millions in subsidies to massive tech companies — all while offering very little to the people. It’s utterly abominable that tax revenues derived in part from the meagerly paychecks of low-income folks will enrich the coffers of a heinously wealthy corporation if HQ2 gains final approval. The working class owes no allegiance to so-called representatives who flout the popular will to further enrich the already ultra-rich! After all, HQ2 employees will mostly receive incomes that exceed $150,000 per year. These jobs are not for ordinary working people.
The class warfare at play here is perhaps best demonstrated by Amazon’s public commitment to transplant its infamous anti-worker practices to HQ2-Queens, pledging to fight future attempts by its NY workforce to unionize. Upstate people facing down Trump’s anti-labor climate don’t need another union-busting billionaire gentrifying yet another vulnerable neighborhood in our state’s economic center, and they don’t need a repeat of Amazon-Seattle. Just recently, Amazon killed the Northwest tech hub’s popular head-tax, a measure that would have allowed the city to address its homelessness crisis and fund affordable housing. The corporation will do the same in our state, fighting progressive policy measures to secure its political domination. This could spell the death knell of our state’s already-broken democracy, leaving Upstate New Yorkers with less of a political voice in state affairs than ever before.
We reject Amazon-Queens’ inevitable support for racist policing and deportation in our state. As the richest man in America works to seal the deal on HQ2-Queens, his plans to advance state oppression are clear; look no further than Amazon’s abominable collaborations with ICE and the NYPD. Many upstate residents already carry the burden of regular ICE and Border Patrol disruptions to our communities, and we won’t tolerate Big Tech worsening the situation. In upstate population centers such as Rochester, Border Patrol routinely harasses immigrants and other brown folks at the city’s Greyhound Bus Station. These uninvited border cops work in tandem with ICE to enforce this country’s cruel deportation machine — a relationship that stands to be strengthened by the inevitable employment of Amazon-produced law enforcement technology downstate. We know full-well that it won’t be long before such technology lands in the hands of the racist police forces in Buffalo, Ithaca, Binghamton, Syracuse, Rochester, and other upstate population centers.
“Only sustained grassroots organizing can defeat HQ-2 and reverse this larger tide.”
Though the concerns detailed above are by no means exhaustive, we affirm that Amazon’s ascendant anti-union, anti-immigrant practices amount to more than capitalist greed; they signal an intensification in this country’s creep towards total fascism. Only sustained grassroots organizing can defeat HQ-2 and reverse this larger tide.
It’s for these reasons that we will continue to organize our communities in keeping with the vision of total liberation from domination. We will shun the scraps being thrown at us by Bezos, refusing his offers of subsidized education to gain employment at Amazon. We will support our Queens comrades who are on the front-lines of this struggle, heeding their requests for solidarity without delay. We will hold regional institutions such as Cornell University to account for their role in orchestrating the HQ-2 atrocity. And if Cuomo comes to our towns, we will make it loud and clear that he is no governor of ours.