‘Occupy the Hamptons’ protesters in NY demand the rich pay more taxes

'Occupy the Hamptons' protesters in NY demand the rich pay more taxes


Climate protesters calling for higher taxes on the rich are causing headaches in the Hamptons.

Well-heeled vacationers hoping to catch a private flight out of the swanky seaside enclave of East Hampton on Monday were greeted by a coalition of activists associated with New York Communities for Change intent on disrupting their travel plans.

“Tax the rich, house the poor,” the crowd of protesters chanted as they linked arms at the corner of Main Street and Newtown Lane in East Hampton while others disrupted the entrance to the local airport.

One demonstrator sat atop a roughly 10-foot-high tripod device that blocked most of the road below and required police to bring in a cherry-picker truck to clear out.

According to organizers, at least six activists were arrested during the morning demonstration.

Alice Hu, a climate campaigner for New York Communities for Change, said the protest was partly meant to call out wealthy New Yorkers who contribute disproportionately to climate change by using private planes and helicopters to go back and forth to the Hamptons.

“It’s really the perfect place to send this message,” Hu said. “We’re in the backyards of these ultrawealthy billionaires who have emitted much more emissions than the average person. They live an extravagant, polluting lifestyle and are driving a huge inequality crisis.”

The action at the airport followed a weekend full of protests across the celebrity-friendly Long Island getaway of East Hampton as demonstrators blocked roads and rallied outside billionaires’ homes as part of a movement dubbed “Occupy the Hamptons.”

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A Saturday protest at nearby Coopers Beach in Southampton Village was held in support of granting members of the Shinnecock Nation free access to village beaches.

Other events on Saturday and Sunday included shutting down traffic along Montauk Highway in East Hampton as activists called for increasing taxes on the wealthy.

Around a dozen people were arrested during the demonstrations, organizers said.

Hu said the idea is to pressure the wealthy on climate action, raise support for increasing taxes on the richest New Yorkers and call attention to inequality in the state.

“The point of these actions is to draw attention to the overall fact that these billionaires are the ones wo are destroying the planet and making it unlivable and creating unlivable conditions with regards to housing unaffordability for ordinary people,” Hu said.

Last year, amid revenue concerns brought on by the pandemic, lawmakers and former Gov. Andrew Cuomo bumped up the personal income tax for top earners and hiked corporate taxes. But the changes are not permanent and will sunset in 2027.

Gov. Hochul has repeatedly expressed reservations about increasing taxes further on New York’s wealthiest residents out of fear that it could quicken the pace of deep-pocketed residents packing it up and moving elsewhere.

Progressive advocates have been pushing state leaders and lawmakers to embrace increasing taxes on the top 1% in recent years to fund more social services, combat climate change and increase public housing.

A proposed wealth tax that would target unrealized capital gains of the wealthiest New Yorkers has been floated for several years. The measure would tax assets on a yearly basis as they increase in value, regardless of whether or not they were sold.

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Several other proposals, such as a pied-a-terre tax and a corporate stock buyback tax, have likewise stalled in Albany in recent years.

Hu said the protesters are not rallying behind any particular bill at the moment but rather just trying to raise awareness about inequality.



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