Hundreds of protesters participated in a “Millionaires’ March” Tuesday that wended its way through New York City’s wealthy Upper East Side neighborhood. They called for an end to the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few and sought to pressure Governor Andrew Cuomo to extend a surcharge tax on the state’s wealthiest residents known as the “Millionaire’s Tax.” The march stopped at the homes of several billionaires, including John Paulson, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, conservative billionaire David Koch, Emigrant Savings Bank chairman Howard Milstein, and News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch. The march was organized by 99 New York, a new coalition of groups formed around the growing Occupy Wall Street movement, and included trade unionists, retirees, students and an activist brass marching band.
PROTESTERS: We are the 99 percent! We are the 99 percent! We are the 99 percent!
MICHAEL KINK: Today we’re talking about the fact that New York State is about to give a $5 billion tax cut to some of New York’s richest millionaires and billionaires. We’re cutting schools, we’re cutting homeless services, we’re cutting higher education aid, seniors, libraries, to pay for tax cuts for rich people that don’t need the money. We’re going to Rupert Murdoch’s house, David Koch’s house, John Paulson’s house, Howard Milstein’s house, and Jamie Dimon’s house, to call attention to the fact that we’ve got to stop this tax cut. We’re trying to increase pressure on Governor Cuomo and the state legislature to stop the tax cut, restore the worst of the budget cuts, and create jobs instead.
CHARLES JENKINS: What you’re seeing here today is the working class sending a message that, A, the rich got to pay their fair share. No special privileges. They live in their fancy $2-$3 million homes and then demand more than the regular citizens. That’s unfair. And so, you see hundreds of thousands of people marching up 5th Avenue, where they want it to be secluded. But in New York, we expect for the rich to pay their fair share, as the 99 percent of the working class pays.
PROTESTERS: We’ll march up Park Avenue and visit many of our other billionaire friends!
MANSOOR KHAN: We are in front of Rupert Murdoch’s house. I am out here, like everybody else here, as part of the 99 percent who thinks that our government is run and controlled by billionaires and millionaires and are no longer responsive to the people that actually put them in office and elected them.
JOANNA COLLE: I think I should pay more in taxes. I think Americans—most Americans don’t realize how little they pay in taxes. I’m talking about relatively well-to-do people, who in the 1960s or '70s would have paid, I think, an 80 or 90 percent marginal tax rate on their highest marginal tax rate. And today I think they're paying 38 percent. On the other hand, one in three children in New York City are growing up in poverty and that the median income in the United States has gone down in the last two years. I’m concerned that the large corporations have basically bought the political system.
PROTESTERS: Tell me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like! Tell me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!
BOVARY TARITAS: I have been definitely impacted by the economic recession. I worked in a robotics engineering firm for quite a while as part of their support staff. And what we would do is we would go into manufacturing plants, and we would work on the robots. And, well, you know, with the complete recession and, you know, all of the manufacturing plants being shut down, I lost my job. And it’s been incredibly difficult for me to find something, not because I am unqualified, not because I don’t want to work, but just simply because there is nothing. There is nothing. So, you know, I know that I am not the only person that feels this way. And, you know, I’m hoping what we’re doing is just expressing solidarity, raising awareness.
TONY GRONOWICZ: I live here on the lint of the navel of the belly of the beast. And it’s—the day has come. This is a day of reckoning and a hallelujah day, in terms of putting the focus of the march on the people responsible for this global crisis that we’re in.
TAMIE HOLLINS: We’re paying more taxes. They have more money. Why not we share the taxes? No more bailouts, because we’re not going to be sold out! No more bailouts! We won’t be sold out!