Virginia county approves Amazon incentives despite protests
Protesters repeatedly shouted "shame" as a northern Virginia county board Saturday unanimously approved a $23 million incentives package for Amazon to build a new headquarters there.
The Arlington County Board's 5-0 vote came after hours of heated public testimony, news outlets reported.
Supporters said Amazon's plan to build a massive facility in Crystal City will lead to tens of thousands of good jobs and bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue. Opponents, however, said the tech giant neither needs nor deserves public subsidies. They also said lower-income residents would be driven out by rising rents.
"This vote today is about racial justice," Danny Cendejas, a member of the La ColectiVA advocacy group, said, according to WRC-TV . "We have been talking to folks in communities of color, immigrant communities. We have been hearing consistently the concerns about gentrification."
Amazon plans to create at least 25,000 jobs over 12 years in the Washington suburb. The state of Virginia has already approved a $750 million incentives package for the company.
During the meeting, activists grew outraged after they were not allowed to ask questions to the Amazon officials who had given testimony.
Protester Chris Otten shouted that a vote should not be permitted and yelled profanities, prompting police and security personnel to physically remove him, The Washington Post reported. Video shows Otten screaming as he was carried, saying he had a broken arm.
Board Vice Chair Libby Garvey said she is excited for the future of Arlington County with Amazon.
"Arlington has done a lot of changing in the 40 plus years I have been here and we are ready for this change," Garvey said. "We've planned for this growth, we've planned for these jobs, but we did not expect to get so much of this in one agreement."
In November, Amazon selected New York City and Crystal City as the winners of a secretive, yearlong process in which more than 230 North American cities bid to become the home of the Seattle-based company's second headquarters.
Amazon last month abandoned its New York City headquarters plan amid pushback from politicians and activists who were angry about the tax breaks that had been offered as well as the company's anti-union stance.