Anti-greed protesters march to Rupert Murdoch's place
Perhaps never have so many people walked past the Valentino and Emilio Pucci stores without stopping to gape at the expensive goodies in the windows, but the crowd marching through Manhattan's chic Upper East Side on Tuesday wasn't looking for shoes or handbags.
It was looking for millionaires and billionaires, who proved as elusive as a cheap pair of Manolo Blahniks, as supporters of Occupy Wall Street’s anti-greed movement took their demonstration to the homes of a well-heeled few.
It was a relatively small but very loud group that made its way through some of the toniest stretches of Manhattan, starting at 59th Street and 5th Avenue in a square across the street from the posh Plaza Hotel. Tourists, locals, and the people who steer horse-drawn carriages through nearby Central Park watched with curiosity as the protesters began congregating about noon.
The gathering was sponsored by Strong Economy for All, a coalition of labor and other groups that supports Occupy Wall Street's nearly monthlong sit-in in Manhattan's financial district. While Occupy Wall Street's marches have taken place mainly in lower Manhattan, Tuesday's event moved things into areas previously unaffected by the growing anti-greed movement.
Michael Kink of Strong Economy for All said this march was aimed at keeping alive a state millionaire’s tax that is due to expire in December. “New York state is about to give a tax cut to the richest of the rich,” Kink told the crowd of about 200 -- not including the scores of journalists and passersby snapping pictures -- as it prepared to march.
“Booooo!" the protesters replied.
“That's not right!" Kink said. “This tax cut can't happen.”
With that, the crowd was off to its first stop a mere five blocks up 5th Avenue to the building where media magnate Rupert Murdoch lives. As a brass band provided musical accompaniment and marchers chanted various anti-greed slogans, doormen watched from beneath the awnings protecting entryways to some of Manhattan's plushest lobbies.
Locals, many of them walking small dogs or pushing children in strollers, watched. Some appeared confused as to what the fuss was about. Many smiled and nodded approval even as the crowd chanted, “This is class warfare!”
“They're not shouting at us!" said Phyllis Malamud, who like most of the people living along the targeted avenues does not consider herself among the super-rich 1% of the population that is the pet peeve of Occupy Wall Street and its supporting groups. “Good for them is what I think. They're absolutely right,” said her friend and neighbor in a Park Avenue building, Jill Horowitz.
Murdoch did not come to the door of his 5th Avenue building. Nor did anyone else. In fact, the doormen on duty quickly closed the doors and locked them, peering outside at the crowd. The crowd peered in at them.
There were four more stops on this tour of the homes of the rich and powerful, including those of billionaire Tea Party backer David Koch; banker Howard Milstein; and hedge fund manager John Paulson.
Malamud and Horowitz heard the chants from their apartment and came running downstairs as the group reached the building next to theirs, where JPMorgan CEO and President Jamie Dimon owns an apartment. According to a flier given to marchers, the apartment is worth “an estimated $10 million!!!! His second home in Westchester was purchased for $17.8 million!”
Perhaps Dimon was in Westchester, because he didn’t come out to greet the visitors.
Several people in his building, though, weren't shy. They leaned out their windows to watch the action below or came onto the sidewalks, through the iron gates that guard a gracious courtyard with a fountain and flower beds. Many snapped pictures of the protesters, who remained behind metal police barricades as they railed against the rich.
“I think everyone feels they’re doing the right thing,” said Horowitz, when asked if she thought the protesters’ tactics would have an impact. “There’s no other way to bring this issue to the public.”
-- Tina Susman in New York
Photo: A doorman peers outside at anti-greed protesters from the lobby of a Park Avenue building. Credit: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters