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Amazon HQ2 protesters paid for rally: report

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long island cityAmazon killed plans to open its HQ2 in New York.Shutterstock

  • Earlier this month, a Long Island City landlord launched a protest against Amazon after it announced plans to pull its HQ2 project from Queens, New York.
  • The boycott, which took place outside an Amazon Books store near Herald Square, was supposed to include fellow angry Queens residents.
  • But two protesters told Patch that they were paid for the gig.

Earlier this month, a Long Island City landlord launched a protest against Amazon after the company announced plans to pull its HQ2 project from Queens, New York.

Sam Musovic, who owns apartments close to where Amazon had proposed building its headquarters, told Business Insider that the news about HQ2 being canceled was “devastating” and that he and a group of angry Queens residents would be protesting at an Amazon Books store near Herald Square on February 15.

 

Read more: An angry landlord is leading calls for an Amazon boycott after the company canceled its HQ2 plans for New York City

While Musovic was present and vocal at the event, it seems that the group of Queens residents who joined him were not who the public thought they were. 

At least two of the protesters told Patch that they were paid to be there. 

“I was just looking for jobs and came across that gig — I thought it was advertising-related,” Donny Radwell, one of the protesters, told Patch. He said he had found an ad on Craigslist that offered $30 an hour to hold a sign.

Another protester, Charlie Perry, said that the ad was deleted after the event but that he filmed the protesters being handed cash by an unidentified man. 

A spokesperson for Musovic’s rally did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment. Both  Musovic and his spokesperson denied to Patch that they had any knowledge of the alleged Craigslist post and payments. 

“I don’t know anything about that,” Musovic told Patch. “We were just trying to get Amazon back on the table.”

However, according to Patch, the telephone number that was listed on the ad was the same as Musovic’s PR representative. Perry texted this number to respond to the ad.

When asked to comment on this, the representative said to Patch: “My number was listed all over the place. I didn’t necessarily know everybody who was texting me.”

Musovic previously told Business Insider that he took out a loan of more than $1 million from the bank to renovate his apartments in Long Island City and two restaurants he owns on the Upper East Side before Amazon’s November announcement that it would be opening a headquarters in the area. He said he then shifted his focus to investing in the Long Island City locations, putting in new kitchens and bathrooms, thinking he would get the money back when more people moved to the area.

Amazon had said it would bring as many as 40,000 jobs to the city over several years with its new headquarters. Now that’s not happening. In a blog post on February 14, the retail giant called out state and local politicians and hinted that their protests were behind its decision to kill its plans to come to New York.

“I am not going to be able to recoup the benefits,” Musovic said. “It’s a huge loss. We want Amazon back.”

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