Things That Matter

Here’s Why Housing Advocates Are Warning Against Amazon’s Impact On Affordable Housing

ocasio2018 / amazon / Instagram

After months of speculation, Amazon announced that the locations of its second headquarters will be in Long Island City, New York, and Arlington, Virginia. The announcement has been met with criticism from local community members and officials that say the influx of tech workers would fuel gentrification and hurt lower-income populations. Newly elected Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been one of the most vocal public officials to condemn Amazon for moving to Long Island. Ocasio-Cortez represents the 14th Congressional District of New York, which borders the district that includes Long Island City, and says the move “is extremely concerning to residents here.”

Residents and real estate watchers are monitoring the impact Amazon will have on rent and living costs in both New York and Virginia.

Housing displacement was a platform issue that Ocasio-Cortez ran on and is a vocal advocate for affordable housing. She took to Twitter to voice her displeasure about Amazon’s announcement. Ocasio-Cortez said that “shuffling working class people out of a community does not improve their quality of life.” Community members fear that Amazon’s decision to set up shop in New York will hasten gentrification, increase housing prices and displace current residents.

Northern Virginia realtor Jen Walker told NBC Washington that there has already been signs of the “the Amazon effect” on the local real estate marketplace. “They woke up this morning, saw the Amazon announcement and they decided they wanted to move forward with a contract,” she said. “They said, ‘We’re going to get priced out if we don’t do this now.'”

Alex Howe, a member of the group runs the website NoVa Says No to Amazon, echoed a similar message as Walker saying that the real estate market will drastically change now that Amazon is here. “Those already prospering will flourish and those who struggle in our region will be further pushed out and erased,” Howe said. “If Amazon comes here, it should be on our terms and they should pay their fair share in our community if they expect to set up shop here.”

Amazon says it will invest $5 billion and create more than 50,000 jobs across the two new headquarters locations but some are questioning if the company will follow through.

Rising home prices and cost of living have been huge concerns for many communities across the U.S. in places like San Francisco and Seattle, where Amazon is already established. Amazon says their new headquarters will generate millions of dollars in revenue and jobs opportunities. Yet many don’t see it that way as tech companies have been known to price out many long-time residents and hire from outside local communities.

“We are excited to build new headquarters in New York City and Northern Virginia,” Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, said in a statement. “These two locations will allow us to attract world-class talent that will help us to continue inventing for customers for years to come. The team did a great job selecting these sites, and we look forward to becoming an even bigger part of these communities.”

Since Amazon’s arrival, Seattle has become one of the most expensive cities to live in the U.S, forcing many Latino and black residents to move to far-off suburbs.

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in New York to voice their displeasure with the announcement of a new headquarters.

On Wednesday, protesters gathered near Amazon’s soon-to-be headquarters in New York City to voice their concern over the multibillion-dollar incentives being awarded to Amazon. Protesters warn of the potential impact it will have on their community.

Ocasio-Cortez has echoed many residents worries and said she is concerned not just about Amazon specifically, but rather about the relationships that the government has with its citizens and corporations.

“This isn’t just about one company or one headquarters. It’s about cost of living, corps paying their fair share, etc,” she wrote on Twitter. “It’s not about picking a fight, either. I was elected to advocate for our community’s interests – & they’ve requested, clearly, to voice their concerns.”

Mitú reached out to Amazon but there has been no response as this time.


READ: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Victory Lap Rallies To Abolish ICE, Erase Student Loan Debt And Keep Organizing

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A Judge In NY Has To Decided If Unvaccinated Children Should Be Allowed In School Risking The Lives Of Other Children

Things That Matter

A Judge In NY Has To Decided If Unvaccinated Children Should Be Allowed In School Risking The Lives Of Other Children

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Just two months ago, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that mandates vaccination for children old enough to attend schools, and participate in education with other children, unless otherwise advised by a doctor. The legislation came after the spread of misinformation about vaccines caused a series of measles outbreaks in the spring. Scientific literature based on decades worth of data from tens of thousands of children has proven vaccination safe and effective for the public.

Attorney’s Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Michael Sussman filed a class action suit for about three dozen parents who claim that vaccinating their children goes against their faith. Wednesday, Albany courtrooms were packed with over 1,000 anti-vaxxers who wanted to hear how the judge would rule in a debate around religious freedom vs. public health.

The crowd of anti-vaxxers wore white in reference to the Argentine mothers who wore white as they protested their government’s brutal killings and disappearances of their liberal children.

Credit: @GwynneFitz / Twitter

The anti-vaxxers feel that the implication of the government forcing them to vaccine their children from measles is tantamount to the Argentine government killing or “disappearing” 30,000 young, leftist political activists from existence in the 1970s. 

In April 1977, 14 mothers, wearing images of their missing children’s faces around their neck, marched around the Presidential Palace in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires. They took a stand against a violent government in a defiant act to demand justice for their children.

These New York parents also feel the law doesn’t allow enough time to find proper education for their children. 

Credit: @GwynneFitz / Twitter

The demonstrators told Gothamist reporters, Gwynne Hogan and Claire Lampen, that “the new law effectively disappeared their children from the school system.” If the religious exemptions aren’t upheld, their alternative would be to homeschool their children or move to a different state.

“[We’re] hoping that our kids are granted the right to go back to school. Our children have been kicked out,” Long Island mother Amy McBride, 41, told Gothamist. “We’ve all been meeting, trying to look at curriculums, understand how to make it work, what the regulations are, understanding what it takes to actually do that…Our beliefs are steadfast and sincere and true and we’re not going to cave.”

The lawyers in the case argued that legislators demonstrated “active hostility toward religion.”

Credit: @GwynneFitz / Twitter

“[These children] are going to have nowhere to go to school…They have no idea what they are going to do with these children,” Sussman said. New York State attorney Helena Lynch refuted that claim. “The actual legislative record is so clear that the motivation was public health,” Lynch said. “The right to religious expression does not encompass the right to place others in danger.”

Lynch also expressed that legislators aren’t targeting religious groups but are genuinely “skeptical” that those choosing not to vaccinate their kids were expressing personal beliefs rather than religious ones. The crux of the argument seems to rest on public health risk for allowing the religious exemption, especially when an approximate 26,000 children would be unvaccinated in New York schools.

The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Senator Brad Hoylman from Manhattan, specifically wanted to eliminate the religious exemption as the key reason for the recent spread of measles.

Credit: @GwynneFitz / Twitter

You have a First Amendment right to practice your own religion, but you do not have the right to endanger your children or worse other people’s children,” he told a press conference. Already, 14 percent of pre-school aged children in Williamsburg are estimated to be unvaccinated for religious reasons or otherwise. Another 28 percent in Rockland County were unvaccinated.

The anti-vaxxers expressed that they wished New York followed in California’s suit by allowing a year for the law to take effect. But public health advocates cite a sense of urgency for public safety measures, “This needs to be done, not tomorrow, not in a week, not in a month, and not in a year,” said one activist. “It must be done immediately, the numbers are gaining strength.”

Crowds packed even this overflow room as they waited for the judge’s answer.

Credit: @GwynneFitz / Twitter

They never heard it. Judge Hartman hasn’t made her decision yet about whether to allow 26,000 unvaccinated children go to New York schools in time for school start dates just three weeks from the hearing. The anti-vaxxers want her to put a stay on the state law which would allow those children to go to school while she continues to hear the case and make a final, permanent decision.

READ: A 12-Year-Old Mexican Boy Hilariously Trolled Anti-Vaxxers In This Viral Video

Here’s What Is So Disturbing About Seeing Conservative White Men Pretending To Assault And Choke AOC’s Cutout Picture

Things That Matter

Here’s What Is So Disturbing About Seeing Conservative White Men Pretending To Assault And Choke AOC’s Cutout Picture

Since Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez began her career as a politician, Republicans have picked her out as a target for their hate and criticism. Maybe it’s because she doesn’t come from a traditional political background. Maybe it’s because she has loudly protested Republican policies and talking points in the past. Or maybe it’s because she’s a young Latina who won’t take any of their abuse.

Either way, AOC has received a lot of ire from conservatives and that doesn’t seem to be letting up.

The hate has continued over the weekend as Mitch McConnell supporters posted a grossly inappropriate image involving a cardboard cut out of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez on Instagram.

Twitter / @emrazz

In the photo, a group of young white men surround a cardboard cut out of Representative Ocasio-Cortez. One young man is shown embracing and kissing the image of the representative while another mimics holding the Latina by the neck, choking her. The post was originally made on Instagram before it was shared onto Twitter and was captioned with the suggestive, “Break me off a piece of that.”

The pictures were taken at an event called the Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Kentucky. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was a speaker at the event. His social media team even posted their own controversial photo that involved tombstones with the names of McConnell’s political rivals. In his time as Majority Leader, McConnell has worked to oppose bipartisanship, blocking many motions that have come from Democrats in Senate and killing the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court so this is nothing new from the Senator.

Representative Ocasio-Cortez was quick to respond to the image Monday night when it began trending on Twitter.


Twitter / @aoc

“Hey @senatemajldr – these young men look like they work for you,” Representative Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Monday night. “Just wanted to clarify: are you paying for young men to practice groping & choking members of Congress w/ your payroll, or is this just the standard culture of #TeamMitch?”

It’s been well documented that Representative Ocasio-Cortez has received threats of violence, death and rape from far-right supporters and those that oppose the Democratic party. A cop in Lousiana recently got fired for threatening the representative on social media. The exposed Facebook group belonging to ICE agents also had Photoshopped pictures of Rep Ocasio-Cortez being sexually abused and harmed. So, this Instagram post is just one of many situations when conservatives have threatened violence — whether seriously or as a depraved joke — against the Latina.

McConnell’s campaign responded to the post via the Washington Post denying any relation to the young men in the picture.

Twitter / @frankthrop

Kevin Golden, McConnell’s campaign manager put out the following statement:

“These young men are not campaign staff. They’re high schoolers and it’s incredible that the national media has sought to once again paint a target on their backs rather than report real, and significant news in our country. Team Mitch in no way condones any aggressive, suggestive, or demeaning acts toward life-sized cardboard cutouts of any gender.”

It’s important to note that these young men also attend Covington Catholic School — the same school that produced the teens who disrupted the January 2018 Native American demonstration. During that controversy, McConnell and team also defended the young men and put the blame on the media for calling attention to what they saw as a case of “boys being boys.”

The young men pictured in the Insta pic also had other disturbing props at the Fancy Farm Picnic.

Twitter / @StrangeShadows

The group also came equipped with large cardboard cutouts of Brett Kavanaugh’s face. Kavanaugh was made a Supreme Court Justice when McConnell blocked the nomination of Judge Garland despite there being major accusations of sexual assault and rape against Kavanaugh. These props are truly tasteless but make sense considering their photo with the AOC cut out.

Of course, Twitter was quick to call out the racism, misogyny, and danger that is at play with stunts like these.

Twitter / @saraialejandraa

As this post points out, images of cis white men choking a Latina is inherently racist, no matter if they were playing around or not. It’s also indicative of the misogyny that is laughed off and allowed in the Republican party. This Twitter user also suggested donating to McConnell’s opponent, Amy McGrath, for his 2020 Kentucky seat.

Speaking of McGrath, she also tweeted her condemnation for McConnell and the disturbing images that came out of the Kentucky event.

Twitter / @AmyMcGrathKY

The McConnell opponent tweeted her disbelief and her disapproval of the Senate Majority Leader’s use of death imagery in his political messaging — especially so soon after the tragedy in El Paso. We have witnessed the Republican party coyly encourage violence against progressives and then act innocently about it. It’s time to call these moments out for what they are: threats that could very well turn to brutality and death.

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