Billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson, whose home was on the visiting list for Occupy Wall Street's "Millionaire March" this afternoon, said today that "instead of vilifying our most successful businesses, we should be supporting them and encouraging them to remain in New York City."
Protesters took to New York City's tony Upper East Side today and marched past the homes of several of the city's richest residents, including News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch, real estate developer Howard Milstein and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dixon.
According to the Wall Street Journal, demonstrators skipped Paulson's home because it was too far from the chosen route.
But Paulson, nevertheless, addressed the issue through a written statement by his hedge fund, Paulson & Co.
"The top 1 percent of New Yorkers pay over 40 percent of all income taxes, providing huge benefits to everyone in our city and state," said the written statement. "Paulson and Co. and its employees have paid hundreds of millions of dollars in New York City and New York state taxes in recent years and have created over 100 high paying jobs in New York City since its formation."
It continued: "New York currently has the highest income taxes of any state in the country and thousands of businesses have fled New York to states with no income taxes such as Florida, Texas and Nevada, or moved offshore."
2K Demonstrators Head Uptown
According to an Occupy Wall Street spokesman, about 2,000 protesters took part in the march, which started close to 1 p.m. and made its way up Park Avenue.
The demonstration called for an extension of the state's so-called "millionaires tax," the highest income-tax rate on taxpayers with incomes of more than $500,000. The tax is set to expire in December.
"[The] tour will visit homes of some of the most well-known millionaires in New York City specially chosen for their willingness to hoard wealth at the expense of the 99 percent," organizers told Capitalnewyork.com.
Elizabeth Owens carried an oversized check as she participated in today's march.
"I want the millionaires to know that we won't stand for this. I pay more than they do in taxes," said Owens, a New York resident.
Richard Bey of New York said Wall Street needed regulation and oversight.
"Half of the country is making less than $49,000 a year. Should you be taxed the same as a millionaire?" Bey asked.
Upper West Side resident Joanna Cole, who said she was wealthy, carried a sign that read "Tax Me."
"I think I should pay more taxes," she told ABC News today. "We are at a point in this country where we are seeing the greatest inequality in wealth in 125 years."
Meredith Balk, a retired Delta Airlines worker, said that the working class used to have a secure lifestyle.
"Unfortunately, we bought into the perception and goals of the rich," she said. "This march is an excellent idea that will gain a lot of attention. We're going straight to the people who make these decisions."
Occupy Wall Street's Message Spreads
The Occupy Wall Street movement is in its fifth week and has spread to 150 U.S. cities and Europe.
Occupy Seattle issued a statement today saying that it would hold a march Saturday.
Earlier today, in Boston, about 100 demonstrators gathered as part of an Occupy Boston movement were arrested when they moved into an area outside of the designated protest space, Boston police said.
The Boston protest group started in late September and has planned assembly meetings every day during October.
One arrest related to the Occupy Chicago protests was made Monday for alleged battery of a police officer.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.