Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) cheered the collapse of New York City’s high-profile deal with Amazon during her inauguration in the Bronx Saturday, a shocking twist that activists in Northern Virginia and Nashville, Tennessee are hoping to recreate in their own states.
“We need to create dignified jobs in New York City,” Ocasio-Cortez said Saturday at a ceremonial swearing-in event marking her start as a freshman member of the House of Representatives. “We don’t have to settle for scraps in the greatest city in the world.”
The deal attracted the ire of many on the left. In a rare move, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) teamed up to offer Amazon a $3 billion tax incentive without any input from local politicians or residents.
While advocates of the deal touted the thousands of jobs that the new headquarters would bring to Queens, many grassroots activists pointed to the fact that the campus would continue to inflate housing costs in the city and exacerbate the city’s affordability crisis.
In the wake of the news that Amazon was pulling out of the deal, many politicos pointed to Ocasio-Cortez’s influence, but the headquarters were not actually planned to be built in her district.
Ocasio-Cortez herself said last week that she believes her impact is being overstated.
I think so. Grassroots community members led + organized the whole effort. Wouldn’t have happened if they weren’t there.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 14, 2019
“Grassroots community members led [and] organized the whole effort,” she tweeted. “Wouldn’t have happened if they weren’t there.”
Meanwhile, Amazon said last week that they plan to move forward with their other planned campus in Crystal City, Virginia, a suburb of Washington D.C., and an operational center in Nashville, Tennessee.
Activists in the two cities say they’re looking to New York for tips on how to defeat Amazon in their hometowns, as well.
“We’re all just so proud and in awe of the work that the folks in New York have done,” Alex Howe, an organizer with Metro D.C. Democratic Socialists, one of many groups involved in the anti-Amazon organizing, told The American Prospect. “It shows that Amazon is not impervious, and that we do have a chance to make a difference.”
Odessa Kelly, the co-chair of anti-Amazon group Stand Up Nashville (SUN) also spoke to The American Prospect about the deal, saying, “We just woke up on a Tuesday morning and found out Amazon was coming to Nashville.”
She added: “The lack of democracy [you saw] in New York is the same thing we’ve been dealing with here. We have the same questions and we want the same answers.”
In an opinion piece published in The New York Times Saturday, de Blasio — who is mulling a presidential run — blamed Amazon for not meeting with residents and discussing their concerns.
“Amazon’s path in New York would have been far smoother had it recognized our residents’ fears of economic insecurity and displacement — and spoken to them directly,” de Blasio wrote.
But activists were quick to point out de Blasio never met with them to discuss the deal and hear their concerns. Grassroots group PrimedOut NYC tweeted Saturday that they called the mayor’s office many times.
We called ALOT. They never reached out to us and noone from the governor, mayor, or Queenborough President's office reached out to setup a meeting. We attended De Blasio's Town Hall at Hunter College to ask Qs / get a meeting and he was only interested in protecting his deal
— PrimedOut NYC (@PrimedOutNYC) February 17, 2019
“They never reached out to us and [no one] from the governor, mayor, or [Queens borough] President’s office reached out to setup a meeting,” the group tweeted.
“We attended De Blasio’s Town Hall at Hunter College to ask Qs / get a meeting and he was only interested in protecting his deal.”