Public Advocate Williams’ campaign to ‘Invest in NY’ presses Cuomo to tax the rich

Over 100 individuals gathered out the governor’s office to say “Tax the rich.”
Photo by Dean Moses

Well over 100 individuals were accompanied by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and other elected officials outside of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Midtown office on Tuesday morning to demand greater taxations on the wealthy for the revenue to help rebuild the city.

New Yorkers stood beneath what many in attendance called “the Palace of King Cuomo” at 633 Third Ave. Here they raised fists to the sky and waved signs condemning the state leader’s tax policy just after 11 a.m. as the crowd roared at the Governor’s Manhattan office.

Chants of “tax the rich!” could be heard for blocks while more protesters steadily joined the growing group. This public display of vitriol launched a statewide campaign to “Invest in Our New York,” an act to raise revenue by increasing taxes on the rich.

A podium was erected amidst a sea of business owners, struggling workers, and people who have been particularly hard hit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. From this platform, a who’s who of progressive elected officials and local leaders voiced their support for a movement designed to bolster working-class and low-income residents of a city that they say cater to an affluent demographic. 

“We are so proud to launch the ‘Invest in Our New York’ campaign to take care of each other and to rebuild our economy by ending tax breaks for the richest New Yorkers,” said Sochie Nnaemeka, director of the Working Families party.

Tensions were high after a 2020 filled with poverty and health crisis. Photo by Dean Moses

Williams called for the governor to be the man he claims to be in his books, and to help pass the measures outlined in “Invest in our New York.” He reminded those in attendance that poverty and suffering existed prior to the onslaught of the COVID-19 virus.                    

“We don’t want to go back to normal after the pandemic because normal didn’t work before the pandemic,” Williams said.

He acknowledges that New York needs help from the federal government, but that more aid is needed. Williams also asked Cuomo to get on board with these progressive ideas to help gather revenue for public funding.

“This is a time for bold action from bold leaders. We need someone with the vision and the opportunity and boldness to put this forth. That is what a leader is. A leader is not just press conferences,” Williams said.

Underneath the gaze of a Cuomo effigy, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams became emotional with pleas for a better tomorrow. Photo by Dean Moses

The impact of the coronavirus has continued to exacerbate financial discrepancies in low-income and Black, Brown and immigrant communities. About 60% of New Yorkers have lost income since the dawn of the pandemic with about 1.4 million facing eviction. Advocates are pleading for extensive taxations of the extremely wealthy in order to invest in the city’s struggling backbone.             

“This upside-down economic policy to cut the funding for the public good while losing much-needed revenue was a recipe for disaster and that disaster came to head during COVID-19 when millions of New Yorkers were left vulnerable to the ripple effect of a once in a generation pandemic. Now we are left with enormous pain, sky high hunger, unemployment, and a looming eviction crisis,” Nnaemeka said, arguing that the “Invest in Our New York” Act will help garner revenue for these public programs.

Many in attendance brandished signs as they listened to speakers. Photo by Dean Moses

Nnaemeka explained to the large assembly that this proposed act consists of six bills, which all aim to rebuild the economy and end tax breaks for the wealthiest New Yorkers. “The pain of COVID came on top of pain that our communities have been suffering for years.  For the past 10 years, our state leadership has been chipping away at the public safety net that are supposed to keep New Yorkers protected: housing, healthcare, public schools, and education. At the same time our Governor has cut taxes on the ultra-rich,” Nnaemeka continued.

It is hoped that the governor will take note of these pleas and take a stand to make a positive change for those who need it most, especially for those who kept the city running during a time when all others shut down.

Augustina Velez, a mother facing food insecurity, summed up the feelings of many in attendance: “Families like mine find a way to pay our taxes but the rich find a way to avoid them.”  

One group stood together to spell out “Tax the Rich.” Photo by Dean Moses

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