Queens residents lashed out at Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) over the weekend for her role in Amazon canceling its plans to build its second headquarters location in the New York City borough.
What's the background?
Two years ago, Amazon announced it would split its second headquarters between two locations: Long Island City in Queens and Crystal City, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C.
But Ocasio-Cortez, who at the time was a relatively unknown far-left progressive who had just been elected to Congress, took serious issue with Amazon operating in Queens, despite Long Island City not being located in the congressional district she was elected to represent.
Amazon would have brought tens of thousands of jobs to the area and billions of dollars in annual revenue. But Ocasio-Cortez and other progressive New York politicians like state Sen. Mike Gianaris (D) opposed the development, decrying the tax incentives Amazon would have received and Amazon itself as an anti-union company.
What are residents saying?
Now, nearly two years after Amazon pulled its plans for Queens, residents are speaking out about the "squandered economic opportunity," according to the New York Post, that has been made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.
"I'm watching AOC selling 'Tax the rich' T-shirts for $58 while businesses are leaving New York. That's AOC's solution. Who is going to pay $58 for a T-shirt when you're out of a job?" local business owner Eric Benaim told the Post.
Local art gallery owner Donna Drimer told the Post, "We're in the middle of a pandemic. People say, 'If we only had Amazon.' We got nothing."
Drimer added, "AOC, Gianaris, [local Councilman Jimmy] Van Bramer — wake up! People are leaving. Businesses are closing."
Meanwhile, Gianna Cerbone, owner of a local restaurant, was more explicit with her anger, saying "delusional" far-left politicians have ruined western Queens, where Long Island City is located.
"I'm angry at the stupidity. Everybody fears AOC, who has no idea what she's doing. Opposing Amazon benefited other communities. Imagine if AOC did something positive with her big mouth," Cerbone told the Post. "I believed in Gianaris. Mike believed in the community until he went so far up AOC's ass she couldn't s**t him out."
Who else criticized AOC?
Surprisingly, fellow Democrats New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo criticized Ocasio-Cortez, though not directly, after Amazon pulled the plug on its plans.
Cuomo, in fact, said politicians who opposed Amazon coming to Queens needed to be held accountable.
"A small group of politicians put their own narrow political interests above their community — which poll after poll showed overwhelmingly supported bringing Amazon to Long Island City — the state's economic future and the best interests of the people of this state," Cuomo said. "The New York State Senate has done tremendous damage. They should be held accountable for this lost economic opportunity."
How did AOC's office respond?
Lauren Hitt, a spokeswoman for Ocasio-Cortez, claimed the Amazon deal "would have given [residents'] hard-earned tax dollars to one of the wealthiest men in the world, in exchange for a campus that made no promises about hiring local residents or contracting with local businesses."
Meanwhile, Gianaris maintained his opposition to Amazon.
"In the last two years, Amazon has already added and announced more white-collar jobs in New York City than were called for in the HQ2 plan, all without massive public subsidy," he told the Post.