Protestors Picket Paulson, Others, in (Anti) Millionaires March
by Maxine Dovere
A well organized group of about fifty protestors, loosely connected to the Occupy Wall Street movement, gathered at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 59th Street on Manhattan’s Upper East Side Tuesday afternoon. Following a period of shouted, exactly repeated slogans and statements led by upstate organizer Michael Kink (“Strong Economy for All Coalition,” organized in February, 2011) the group made its way to the homes of several wealthy New Yorkers to whom it “delivered” mock checks representing what it claims will be a “5 billion dollar” tax rebate to New York State millionaires.
This was no loosely organized band of protesters. The group moved from its meeting point at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue to several locations throughout the Upper East Side. Its leaders included professional, experienced community organizers including Michael Kink and Jonathon Westin who commanded their followers like experienced officers of a well ordered army. As it moved along Fifth Avenue to its final destination, the home of John Paulson on East Eighty Sixth Street, the group’s chants were robotic, repetitive and, to this reporter, seemed without independent thought.
The group gathered at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street and marched north to News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch address at 834 Fifth Avenue, continued the home of David Koch at 740 was next approached, followed by a march to 888 Park Avenue, the home of Howard Milstein, chief executive of Emigrant Savings Bank. The Park Avenue and 93rd street home of JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon’s was next, followed by a final stop at John Paulson’s 86th Street townhouse just east of Fifth Avenue. Kink led chants opposing the expiration of the “millionaire’s tax,” (scheduled to expire this year.) Stating that the elimination of the New York State levy would give a 5 billion dollar tax cut to its wealthiest citizens, he said the money should be used to avoid cuts to “schools, homeless services, higher education and other services.”
Finding addresses of the city’s wealthiest is not difficult. Information is available through many sources of public records. The self-termed “Millionaires March,” was led by Michael Kink who described himself as a lawyer from Albany, head of the “Strong Economy for All,” an organization he said was founded in February, 2011. He was joined by representatives from “New York Communities for Change,” “United NY,” the “Working Families Party,” and “Local NY.” Many of the protestors acknowledged having traveled significant distances to participate in the “spontaneous” event.
Kink is an experienced organizer. In 2008, he was appointed Director of Policy Development/Special Counsel for the Senate Democratic Conference by Malcolm Smith. He has been a lobbyist for Housing Works and an advocate for health care, disability, and other causes. Writing in New York Daily News the Daily Politic blog, Celeste Katz called him one “who understands grass roots organizing.” His experience was apparent in the Upper East Side actions.
Signage and placards carried by the protestors ranged from the professionally designed and well printed to those that appeared to be hand lettered. Professionally made, black and yellow “We are the 99 Percent” banners dominated the display.
On the street, reaction to the OWS/Millionaires March was mixed. Some regarded the crowd as “frivolous and immature,” calling the on-going protests a “sort of urban Woodstock.” Dog walkers and delivery men, uniformed school girls and local residents causually made their way around the crowd. A heavy police presence encircled the chanting group at each of its stops, maintaining strict control. “The response of the police,” said Kink, “has been very positive.”
Following its display at the Paulson residence, the crowd dispersed, leaving its “check” on the steps outside Paulson’s door. After asking photographers if they were “finished,” an organizer quietly retrieved the poster. Asked by the Algemeiner why it was not being left on the doorstep, he explained that only “about a dozen of the approximately 2′ X 5′ poster sized displays had been created and that “they’re really expensive,” and were to be used at future events.