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The Battle for Queens, New York, Is Not Just About Amazon

Queens Neighborhoods United says a plan to build a Target in Jackson Heights violates zoning restrictions and will strain infrastructure.
A People's Court puts Target "on trial" just beyond a Queens Neighborhoods United sign on January 6, 2019, in Jackson Heights, Queens.
A People's Court puts Target "on trial" just beyond a Queens Neighborhoods United sign on January 6, 2019, in Jackson Heights, Queens.Amir Khafagy/CityLab

On a cold, sunny January afternoon, an eclectic crowd packed into Dunningham Triangle, a small pedestrian plaza that straddles a busy intersection in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens, New York. In one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse communities in the country, they gathered to voice their opposition to the proposed Target store slated to be built in the empty lot across the street. It was more than just a protest: It was an act of guerrilla theater, featuring a “People’s Court” to prosecute Target for the crimes of gentrification and displacement.

While the community resistance to Amazon’s HQ2 in another Queens neighborhood has garnered more headlines, that’s just one fight against the incursion of large corporations in what some residents see as a wide-ranging struggle over the future of the borough.