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Activists, teachers protest Gov. Cuomo's role in billionaire's fundraiser in East Hampton

Activists from the Hedge Clippers organization protest down

Activists from the Hedge Clippers organization protest down the street from a $5,000-per-plate fundraiser for Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the home of hedge fund billionaire Dan Loeb in East Hampton, July 11, 2015. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Hundreds of liberal activists and teachers descended on East Hampton on Saturday to protest Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's appearance at a fundraiser hosted by hedge fund billionaire Dan Loeb.

About 250 demonstrators stood behind an East Hampton Village police barricade outside Loeb's oceanfront estate, chanting for more public school funding and against the influence of hedge fund executives in politics.

"Cuomo, Cuomo, you can't hide, we can see your greedy side," protesters chanted as they marched down a dead-end street lined with tall hedges toward Loeb's home.

"The governor's progressive accomplishments are nationally recognized and stand on their own. This is just some more performance art from the same paid political advocates under a different name," a Cuomo spokesman said in an email Saturday night.

The sight of the protest was jarring against the backdrop of the Hamptons in midsummer. At times, the demonstrators moved to the side of the road to make way for BMWs and Mini Coopers headed to a beach at the end of the road.

The protest was organized by the Hedge Clippers, a coalition of groups that formed in February to draw attention to hedge fund executives' sway in politics, group leaders said. Five buses picked up protesters from New York City and Long Island, said Michael Kink, who helped organize the demonstration.

The rally drew teachers from Long Island and New York City who criticized Loeb's and Cuomo's support of charter schools. Loeb, the founder of the hedge fund Third Point LLC, is chairman of the board of Success Academy Charter Schools, based in Manhattan.

"Public schools educate every student," said Northport-East Northport teachers union president Antoinette Blanck. "Charter schools, which this fundraiser is supporting, are selective and, in my opinion, they discriminate."

"I teach in a very poor neighborhood," said Brooklyn public school teacher Alexandra Hernandez, 40, of North Babylon. Students, she said, "don't have the supplies they need. The governor needs to focus his attention on what's important: our public school children."

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