New York, Oct 12: Now it's personal: Hundreds of anti-Wall Street protesters held a “Millionaires March” on Tuesday past the homes of some of the wealthiest executives in America, stopping to jeer “Tax the rich!” and “Where's my bailout?”
Walking two-by-two on the sidewalk because they had no march permit and didn't want to be charged with blocking traffic, members of the Occupy Wall Street movement and other groups made their way up Manhattan's East Side, along streets like Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue where some of the richest 1 percent of the population live in townhouses and luxury apartments.
They paused outside buildings where media mogul Rupert Murdoch, banker Jamie Dimon and oil tycoon David Koch have homes, and decried the impending expiration of New York's 2 percent “millionaires' tax” in December.
“I have nothing against these people personally. I just think they should pay their fair share of taxes,” said Michael Pollack, an office worker in a law firm. He held up a sign with a saying attributed to department store founder Edward Filene: “Why shouldn't the American people take half my money from me? I took all of it from them.”
Pollack said: “It's time for a new New Deal.”
For the past 3½ weeks, protesters have besieged a park in lower Manhattan near Wall Street, denouncing corporate greed and the gap between rich and poor. The uptown march marked the first time the Occupy Wall Street movement has identified specific people as being part of the 1 percent the demonstrators say are getting rich at the expense of the rest of America.
When the march reached Park Avenue and East 93rd Street, protesters stopped in front of a building where they said Dimon, JPMorgan Chase's chairman and CEO, has an apartment. Marchers screamed, “Where's our bailout?” and “How do we end this deficit? End the war, tax the rich!”
JPMorgan was among the banks that received a federal bailout, money it has since repaid.
Dimon got supportive words Monday from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is himself a billionaire executive but whose East Side townhouse was not on the protesters' list of targets.
Dimon has “brought more business to this city than maybe any other banker in (the) modern day,” the mayor said. “To go and picket him, I don't know what that achieves. Jamie Dimon's an honorable person working very hard. He pays his taxes.”
On Wednesday, Dimon was to be the focus of another protest, with demonstrators gathering at the New York City headquarters of JP Morgan Chase to again focus on the expiring tax.
Marcher Bahran Admadi, a former taxi driver and art dealer who is now unemployed, said he has “nothing personal” against the rich. “But some of them take people's blood,” he said. “Everything goes up the ladder while we work harder and harder.”
Outside one building, protesters placed a giant replica of a check against the door. It was made out to “The top one percent” for $5 billion—the size of the impending state tax cut for New Yorkers making $250,000 and more.
There were no immediate reports of any arrests.
The Occupy Wall Street protests in Manhattan's Zuccotti Park have spread to other cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle and Los Angeles, and have become a political issue, with Republicans accusing the demonstrators of waging “class war” and President Barack Obama saying he understands their frustrations.
In Washington, six people were arrested Tuesday for demonstrating inside a Senate office building. More than 125 protesters in Boston were arrested overnight after they ignored warnings to move from a downtown green space, police said. A conservation group had recently planted $150,000 worth of shrubs, and officials said they were worried about damage.
The protest in New York City came as the state comptroller issued a report showing that Wall Street is again losing jobs because of global economic woes. The job losses threaten tax revenue for a city and state heavily reliant on the financial industry.
The industry shed 4,100 jobs in the late spring and summer and could lose nearly 10,000 more by the end of 2012, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said. That would bring the total industry loss to 32,000 positions since the financial meltdown of 2008.
The sector employed 166,600 people in investment banks, securities trading firms and hedge funds as of August. AP