Occupy Wall Street set to march to UES against 'millionaires'
Just in case the city’s richest residents haven’t heard the Occupy Wall Street movement’s discontent with them, protesters are going to stop by today to tell them in person.
Several community groups will join the demonstrators this afternoon for a “millionaires march” to the Upper East Side homes of some New York bigwigs, including JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Koch industries co-owner David Koch and NewsCorp CEO Rupert Murdoch, as they decry the Dec. 31 expiration of the state’s so-called “millionaire’s tax.”
“While everyone else is struggling and being asked to make sacrifices to get through the economic downturn, these folks are actually being given more money to line their pockets,” said Doug Forand, a spokesman for the group leading the march, starting at 12:30 p.m. “They live in luxury — these folks don’t need a tax break.”
The march starts at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street and will finish on Park Avenue and 93rd Street.
None of the billionaires returned requests for comment as of press time.
Forand said the group has not requested a permit for the march of possibly hundreds of protesters, since they don’t expect to block traffic. Neither the NYPD nor City Hall would comment on what response or plans would be made for the event.
But earlier yesterday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg indicated the city wasn’t trying to squash the protests, saying he’ll let them stay at the Financial District’s Zuccotti Park “indefinitely” — or until they freeze during a snowy New York winter, whichever comes first.
"The bottom line is people want to express themselves. And as long as they obey the laws, we will allow them to," Hizzoner told reporters before Monday’s Columbus Day parade, adding, "I think part of it probably has to do with the weather.”
Bloomberg has criticized the protesters, who are demanding change to the country’s social and economic policies that they say benefit the wealthy, in the past few weeks but has defended their right to demonstrate.
Several of those at Zuccotti Park seemed unfazed by the mayor’s comments.
“Typical Bloomberg-speak,” said Laura Boutwell, 44, of Astoria, who was at the protest with her 4-year-old daughter, Josephine.
Mark Bray, 29, a spokesman for the protesters from Jersey City, agreed. “What he says is his choice. We’re not losing sleep.”
The protesters were greeted yesterday by Kanye West, who became one of the most famous celebrities to visit the park when he reportedly walked through the park briefly with Russell Simmons. While West didn’t speak with anyone, Simmons told the Daily News he should be taxed more.
"I'm happy to pay a little more taxes if it means better education for our children," he said. "I don't pay enough taxes and I know it."
West and Simmons aren’t the only stars to visit the parks. Susan Sarandon, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Moore and Tim Robbins have already stopped by to link their name to the cause.
Bray said the group welcomed stars, even if they may not be a part of the 99%, economically speaking.
“It’s good to get celebrity attention,” Bray said. “It’s an opportunity for people to find out what we want.”
Celebrity image and marketing consultant Adam Kluger said the recent trips to Zuccotti Park by pop culture icons is likely “political posturing.”
“When celebrities go somewhere, they have an agenda and they’re trying to get behind something or someone,” he said. “They can be very opportunistic. If they can see a chance to use their popularity for good or for their own personal interest, they generally do it.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton was also at the park yesterday to record his syndicated radio show, “Keepin’ it Real.”
“These are people that are raising an issue that all of us believe to be true,” he told amNewYork. He told TMZ he was considering staying overnight with the protesters.
He received a warmer welcome than Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera. Earlier in the day, he was quickly booted from the park by protesters, who repeatedly chanted, “Fox News lies!” A spokesman for the company did not return a call for comment as of press time.
In what has become a common theme of the protests, at least four people were arrested at the park on Monday, the NYPD said, including two for disorderly conduct, one for reportedly drawing with chalk on the sidewalk, and another because there was an open warrant for his arrest. A police spokeswoman said it was unclear how officers were aware there was a warrant for the 27-year-old male or what it was for.
(with Amanda Dallas and Tim Herrera)
Should Occupy Wall Street be allowed to stay indefinitely, like Bloomberg said?