Over 200 protesters wielding pitchforks marched through the Hamptons Thursday to demand that Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) slap billionaires with a wealth tax.
According to Business Insider, the group - organized by a coalition of activist groups including New York Communities for Change, a homeless advocacy organization, and News Guild (CWA) marched throughout the ultra-wealthy vacation town. Stops included the homes of several billionaires, including investor Daniel Loeb, real-estate developer Steven Roth and Hudson Yards developer Steven Ross - all Cuomo donors, according to the report (citing The Guardian).
Thank you @JabariBrisport for coming to to the Hamptons with us to pay a visit to Dan Loeb, the Cuomo donor and billionaire who has used his billions to attempt to privatize our Public Schools. #MakeBillionairesPay pic.twitter.com/rRGcu4jroc— New York Communities for Change (@nychange) July 30, 2020
The protesters were joined by State Senatorial candidate Jabari Brisport, who said outside of Loeb's East Hampton mansion "If there is one thing that makes me more mad than billionaires, it's billionaires like Dan Loeb that push and advocate for charter schools," adding "I'm sick of the attacks on our public school children, and I'm sick of people like this donating to Andrew Cuomo so he can sit there in Albany twiddling his thumbs about how to deal with this budget deficit."
The economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus crisis has strengthened calls for a wealth tax, especially in New York, where Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortex has proposed a special state tax on the ultrawealthy. The proposal has the support of at least 83 ultrawealthy people, including Ben & Jerry's cofounder Jerry Greenfield and Disney heiress Abigail Disney, who penned an open letter arguing that such a tax would "ensure we adequately fund our health systems, schools, and security ... immediately. Substantially. Permanently."
Cuomo shot down the idea, saying that it would drive New York's 118 billionaires out of state. At the same time, the governor announced cuts to state funding for schools, public housing, and hospitals amid a budget crisis brought on by the coronavirus crisis, sparking protests. Thursday's march was the second protest in the Hamptons featuring pitchforks this month. The pitchforks used in the July 1 event were plastic ones purchased from a Halloween store, Patch reported at the time. -Business Insider
Later in the march, protesters began beating drums and chanting "Oh the rent is too damn high," a phrase coined by former New York mayoral candidate Jimmy McMillan over a decade ago.
"The governor has a choice: He can either cut funding from students, nurses, seniors, and working families who keep our city running — or he can tax the rich," said event organizer Alicé Nascimento, who serves as the Director of Policy & Research at New York Communities for Change. "And he keeps choosing cuts over taxes — because he'd rather protect his wealthy billionaire donors than protect working New Yorkers."