Occupy Storefront's Communications Liason Jason Sullivan described last night's protest in front of David Koch's Southampton mansion as a success that ended peacefully.
"It was very beneficial in the sense of uniting the Manhattan base as well as the Long Island base of Occupy Wall Street," Sullivan said. "There was no aggression, no violence. It was peaceful the way protests should be."
For the most part the protesters were kept a fair distance away from the estate where GOP hopeful Mitt Romney was the guest of honor at a $50,000-per-plate fundraiser. The various groups are opposed to what they see as unfair influence of corporate interests over politicians.
The dissenters gathered across from , arriving by car, bike, taxi and bus from New York City, and as far away as Norway. According to Sullivan, however, the group did end up about 200 feet away from the party, holding their signs and banners on the beach that Koch's mansion overlooks.
The crowd represented many other activist groups, including Occupy Wall Street, MoveOn.org, Occupy the Hamptons, the Long Island Progressive Coalition, Service Employees International Union, Long Island Jobs with Justice, Greenpeace, Strong Economy for All Coalition, United New York, Suffolk Peace Network, Art Not War, Occupy Huntington, Align NY, NY Communities for Change, NYACLU, plus many unaffiliated people who wanted to have their voices heard. “Dissent IS Patriotic” was seen on many signs, banners and T-shirts.
An airplane flew over the protest and the Koch estate making certain fundraiser attendees, including Romney himself, would see the trailing a banner reading, “Romney Has A Koch Problem,” which inspired the protestors to chant “rehab, rehab, rehab.” A black Cadillac, MoveOn's “Romney Mobile,” arrived early covered with corporate logos and a dog strapped to the roof.
To the battle cry of the Occupy Wall Street movement, self proclaimed 99-percenters, the poster “Romney President of the 1%” echoed many of the objections, not only to Romney himself but also to his alliance with billionaires like David Koch and his brother Charles Koch, who have pledged tens of millions of dollars to defeat President Barack Obama in November.
Lisa Tyson, the director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition, stated in a release handed out at the protest, “David Koch has done everything in his power to erode the few protections that we have for workers, for the environment and for clean elections. We may not be able to stop the fundraiser, but we can make sure that it’s clear to everyone who attends: if you’re siding with David Koch, you’re standing against the 99%.”