‘Tax the rich’ climate protest shuts down East Hampton airport

Protesters chanted “tax the rich”. Courtesy of New York Communities for Change

East Hampton Town Police arrested six people today (July 11) protesting higher taxes for the wealthy outside East Hampton Airport. The protest was organized by advocacy group New York Communities for Change, the latest in a series of Hamptons protests over the past few days.

New York Communities for Change focuses on climate emissions caused by wealthy Hampton residents. About 25 people gathered outside the airport this morning, holding signs reading ‘tax the rich’ and ‘make the billionaires pay’. As well as tying their arms outside the entrance, a protester stood atop a wooden tripod blocking traffic to the airport. The protest lasted about an hour and a half, Alice Hu, a climate activist with New York Communities for Change, said in a phone interview.

“We want to pressure the New York Legislature and (NY. Gov.) Kathy Hochul to tax the rich and pay for climate action and affordable housing,” Hu said. “The Hamptons are a place where the super-rich hide from the rest of the world, from the world they are helping to kill with rising emissions and rising inequality.”

Climate protests have recently erupted in the city and across the country. Last month, climate activists known as the Tire Extinguishers deflated SUV tires on the Upper East Side, and newspaper delivery in the city was delayed in April after protesters entrance blocked at the New York Times printing press to protest the publication’s advertising deals with fossil fuel companies. Meanwhile, 14 protesters were stopped on July 4 after blocking a highway in Washington, D.C.

The latest in a series of ‘tax the rich’ protests in the Hamptons

Today’s protest is the fourth organized by New York Communities for Change in recent days. Over the weekend, protesters participated in roadblocks in south and east Hampton, where 10 people were arrested for disorderly conduct, Hu said.

A petition as the group is asking for donations to “help us transport hundreds of climate and housing activists to the Hamptons for four straight days of disruption and direct action.” Other advocates from the New York Taxi Union, Long Island Activists and the Shinnecock Nation also joined the protests over the weekend.

The protests were staged in response to escalating climate emissions and inequality caused by the wealthy, according to Hu. “They are heating up our planet and harming the working class,” she said. “Now is the perfect time to confront two of these critical issues facing us, and what better way to do that than to send a message to the richest of the rich?”

This isn’t the first time East Hampton Airport has caused an outcry. For years, residents have complained on noise pollution and safety issues related to helicopters and private planes landing at the airport. Meanwhile, a bill in New York to ban non-essential helicopters in the city, including commuter flights to the Hamptons, has been proposed after a significant increase in complaints about helicopter noise.

East Hampton Town police were notified of the protest shortly after it began, Lt. Daniel Toia said. “They blocked pedestrian vehicle traffic from entering the airport during the protest,” he said. However, an airport employee confirmed that there were no flight delays due to the protest.

At least six people were arrested without resistance, likely for disorderly conduct, according to Toia.

A climatic event