In front of the new location at 40-27 82nd Street, a group of activists spoke out against the Georgia-based fast food chain for its history of supporting and funding anti-LGBTQ groups.
According to several reports, Chick-fil-A’s foundation has given millions of dollars in the past to organizations with controversial, anti-LGBTQ views, such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Salvation Army.
In November 2019, after facing public pressure and criticism, the fast food chain announced that it would no longer fund those organizations, and instead donate to charities that focus on youth education, youth homelessness and hunger.
Daniel Puerto, a local community organizer who put together the demonstration last week, noted that Jackson Heights and Elmhurst are home to a large number of LGBTQ and gender non-conforming people.
“We really wanted to make sure our neighbors knew the history of hate and impact that businesses like Chick-fil-A have towards this community,” he said. “We are here to not only question how was Chick-fil-A welcomed to our communities, but also to remind our neighbors about businesses like these so that we can be informed consumers.”
Activists also pointed out that the new Chick-fil-A is located at the same site where community organizations fought a contentious rezoning project several years ago. Although the developers withdrew the rezoning application, they later withstood a legal challenge and constructed a smaller version of the proposed building.
Shrima Pandey, an organizer with Queens Neighborhoods United, said companies like Chick-fil-A, Target and Starbucks have opened up on the block.
“This was never a block that should have welcomed any corporation like Chick-fil-A,” she said. “We know these corporations do not have a community’s best interest at heart.”
Pandey added that QNU will continue to “keep a watchful eye” on their activities and the way they treat community members.
“We will continue to fight against these corporations as they continue to extract and leech off of our neighborhoods,” she said.
Two City Council candidates vying to represent Elmhurst and Jackson Heights also attended the demonstrate last week. Carolyn Tran said she wanted to stand in solidarity with and support the organizers.
She said having Chick-fil-A in the neighborhood is “such a slap in the face,” especially to the large LGBTQ community.
“We don’t need a Chick-fil-A, a Chipotle or Target here,” Tran said. “We have all that stuff here already and businesses that provide these goods that don’t fund anti-LGBTQ groups.”
City Council hopeful Shekar Krishnan called it “absolutely abhorrent” that Chick-fil-A has opened up in the community because of the “anti-LGBTQ hate, intolerance and prejudice” they have funded and espoused over the years.
“It’s a direct assault on our values as a community,” he said.
Krishnan also denounced the way 82nd Street has been transformed to allow for further gentrification and displacement.
“I feel really uncomfortable and angry about it, I know many residents do too,” he added. “This is not the kind of presence we want to see in our community.”