Protesters march on billionaires’ homes

Labor and community activists joined by Occupy Wall St. targets Dimon, Koch and Murdoch on Upper East Side march

Topics: Occupy Wall Street, New York City, Koch Brothers, Rupert Murdoch, The Labor Movement, ,

Protesters march on billionaires' homesOccupy Wall Street protesters chant outside the Park Avenue home to billionaire David Koch and David Ganek, in New York, on Oct. 11, 2011. (Credit: AP/Andrew Burton)

New York progressive and community groups joined by Occupy Wall Street protesters marched through one of the city’s poshest neighborhoods on Tuesday, visiting the homes of several billionaires to pressure Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature to extend the life of a surcharge tax on the state’s wealthiest residents.

Besides being good theater — a giant check representing state tax cuts for the rich was left on the doorstep of hedge funder John Paulson’s Upper East Side townhouse — the march amounted to an attempt by veteran community and labor-affiliated activists to harness the intense media and popular interest in Occupy Wall Street to advance a specific progressive policy goal.

“We’re not trying to grab the steering wheel. We’re not trying to say Occupy Wall Street is all about one issue. But this is a concrete example of the kind of policies that are screwed up,” said organizer Michael Kink, executive director of Strong Economy for All, a coalition of unions and community advocacy groups. “I think public opinion is galvanizing around Occupy,” he added.

Kink is also a former policy aide for the Democratic Party in the state Senate.

Cuomo and state Republicans favor allowing a surcharge on New Yorkers making more than $200,000 per year in taxable income — the so-called millionaires’ tax — to expire at the end of the year. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, said last month he still wants to see the surcharge renewed.

“It is immoral to give a tax cut to John Paulson when we are giving budget cuts to school kids in the south Bronx,” Kink shouted in front of Paulson’s home on 86th Street. “It is immoral to give a tax cut to John Paulson when we are cutting for poor seniors in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Our communities need the money!”

The march of roughly 500 was organized by a new coalition of groups, “99 New York,” whose name is a reference to the unofficial slogan of Occupy Wall Street, “We are the 99 percent,” and which formed in the last few weeks. It is made up of Strong Economy for All, United NY, the Working Families Party, New York Communities for Change, and MoveOn. Activists from Occupy Wall Street were also involved in the planning of the march, said 99 New York spokesman Douglas Forand.

The crowd was a diverse group of union members, Occupy Wall Street standbys, and other New Yorkers brought along by community groups. Protesters stopped in front of the homes of John Paulson, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, conservative billionaire David Koch, Emigrant Savings Bank chairman Howard Milstein, and News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch.

“Rupert can you heeaarrrr me up there?” screamed one marcher outside Murdoch’s building on Fifth Avenue. “I would like a croissant!”

Marchers got waves and smiles from many of the service workers in the neighborhood — guards, cleaners and doormen — but were met mostly with bemusement or irritation by the area’s well-heeled residents.

Scores of police officers and NYPD vehicles kept protesters on the sidewalks and were posted outside the homes where the march stopped (here is a photo of Koch’s front door). There were no arrests.

Much like the giant union-backed march last Wednesday, the Upper East Side protest had the trappings of an action put together by veteran activists. There were prefab signs like this one, “School budgets get slashed to increase their stash.” There was a professional press contact, in contrast to the spotty, volunteer P.R. operation at Occupy Wall Street in Liberty Square. That seemed to pay off for the organizers: The press turnout was impressive. At times it seemed like there was one reporter, photographer or cameraman for every five protesters or so. On the other hand, the crowd took a while to get the hang of the human mic, the call-and-response system of human amplification that has become a signature of Occupy Wall Street.

More actions are planned for this week on the millionaires’ tax issue. On Wednesday 99 New York will be at Chase Plaza protesting Dimon. On  Thursday there is an “austerity breakfast at Tiffany’s” planned, which will also highlight the wealth gap.

Justin Elliott is a reporter for ProPublica. You can follow him on Twitter @ElliottJustin

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>