Occupy Wall Street-style protests reach LI

Protesters try to get their message seen and Protesters try to get their message seen and heard during an Occupy Wall Street protest at the Long Wharf in Sag Harbor. More than 100 protesters came out to show their support with signs and speeches. (Oct. 15, 2011) Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

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About 200 people in Massapequa and Sag Harbor Saturday took aim at corporate influence in politics and growing income gaps as they staged local versions of the Occupy Wall Street protests.

At a rally dubbed Occupy Massapequa, about 100 people stood at Route 107 and Sunrise Highway, holding signs like "Working Class Heroes" and "Honk to Tax a Millionaire."

A steady stream of passing drivers did.

By the windmill on Long Wharf in Sag Harbor, more than 100 people held signs such as "Wall Street: Buy Stocks, Not Politics," and spoke about their concern about education cuts and wealthy Americans who they say do not pay their fair share of taxes. They called their protest Occupy the Hamptons.

Ty Wenzel, 46, a freelance Web designer from East Hampton, cited a growing gap between the rich and poor in the Hamptons. "For the last 30 years, we've seen the top 1 percent vacation in our beaches. Our beaches are no longer ours," Wenzel said.

"Our schools are overcrowded. We need to do something," she told the crowd.

In Massapequa, Pat Russo, 58, of East Meadow, said her daughter, Lauren Broyles, 31, has been working fewer hours as a Valley Stream substitute teacher because of budget cuts.

Robert McKee, 53, a school psychiatrist at North Shore Middle School in Glen Head, said the loss of education jobs could have been offset by raising taxes on the wealthy. "People are mad about getting the short end of the stick," he said.

But Aaron Curry, 46, of Water Mill, who was standing across the street from the Sag Harbor protests, wondered what the village had to do with the Wall Street protests, dozens of miles away.

"They should go back there," said his friend, Keith Seigerman, 52, of Water Mill.

But Seigerman's friend, Duncan Kennedy, 43, of Southampton, said he supported the protests. "The gap between rich and poor is too wide in this country," he said.

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