Several hundred protesters who joined the Occupy Albany demonstration took their grievances inside the state Capitol on Thursday, urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers to extend the millionaire's tax in New York.
Activists from Buffalo, Rochester and other Occupy Wall Street encampments from around the state rallied in downtown Lafayette Park, where public employee union members joined them, swelling the crowd to more than 300 people. Some chanted, "Andrew Cuomo you're the worst. Time to put the people first."
Cuomo addressed the State Democratic Committee at a suburban Albany hotel Thursday and didn't meet with the protesters. Cuomo told that gathering they need to stimulate jobs in the private sector.
The Democrat-controlled Assembly has passed legislation to continue higher income taxes for New York's top earners, though Senate Republicans have opposed it and Cuomo said he is against it.
"It's outrageous that millionaires are getting a tax cut," said protest organizer Sara Gordon.
Pat Baker, a vice president of the Public Employees Federation who works for the state Office of Mental Health, said the union members are part of the 99 percent of people represented by the demonstrators.
"We want the 1 percent to pay their fair share," she said.
After chanting and cheering speakers for a half-hour in Lafayette Park, across from the Capitol, the group walked a few blocks to the offices of the Business Council of New York State, which lobbies for corporate interests. About 50 were allowed inside and delivered what they called a singing telegram: "Listen up Business Council, it's time to put the people first. Listen up greedy bankers, it's time to put the people first."
Outside, they reprised chants, including, "Hey you millionaires, pay your fair share. Say what?" Then they walked to the Capitol.
One stairway that leads to the governor's office was temporarily cordoned off Thursday but later reopened. A line of state troopers blocked most protesters from the governor's suite of offices and from the Senate outer chamber, both normally open to the public. The demonstrators rallied in a large ceremonial room outside Cuomo's offices and in a hallway outside the Senate.
Protesters have camped in the city's Academy Park since Oct. 21. More than 60 have been arrested by state troopers when they crossed into adjacent state-owned Lafayette Park after an 11 p.m. curfew Cuomo has vowed to enforce, though there were no arrests Wednesday night.
Protesters have been charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct, both low-level violations. Albany County District Attorney P. David Soares said he won't prosecute peaceful protesters.
On Thursday, Albany Common Council member Anton Konev sent Cuomo a letter saying he was dismayed by the governor directing troopers to arrest people for violating a curfew that has never been posted and was never before enforced, along with a resolution approved by the council in support of the Occupy Albany movement.