According to a recent poll, 86% of New Yorkers don’t know who gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout is. Though she’s relatively unknown, there is apparently a group of people so strongly opposed to her bid to challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo in this year’s Democratic primary that they have been appearing at her events and protesting.
Our attempt to discover the origins of the anti-Teachout movement ended with one of the protesters screaming, cursing, and threatening us.
Teachout’s mysterious opponents first drew notice at a press conference she held on Tuesday in Manhattan in conjunction with Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino where they joined together to criticise Cuomo’s ethics. The protesters carried hand drawn signs encouraging Teachout to “moveout” to Vermont, where she was raised and urging Astorino to “come clean.” They declined to speak with reporters about why they showed up to protest.
Two days later, there was another contingent of at least seven protesters at an event Teachout held outside Cuomo’s office in Midtown where she highlighted a New York Times report on allegations the governor interfered with an anti-corruption commission. The protesters appeared to hide their faces behind their signs, which highlighted a court challenge the Cuomo campaign is mounting attempting to get Teachout removed from the primary ballot for residency issues because, among other things, she made a 2012 campaign contribution listing a Vermont address as her own.
“Come clean on your residency,” one sign said.
“Zephyr Teachout (D-VT),” said another.
A report from Capital New York also noted the protesters “tried to cover their faces with their signs when cameras were pointed at them” and declined to answer questions about their identities.
“I’m by myself,” one said.
Aides to Teachout told Capital they saw some of the same protesters at other campaign stops. Teachout’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.
After the event, six of the protesters gathered on a nearby corner. There were three men and three women. They were clean cut and wearing business casual. We overheard a few of them talk about going “back to the office” and they boarded the train at Grand Central Station.
Inside the subway, three of the protesters got on a train to go downtown. On board, two of the protesters discussed how “creepy” they thought Teachout’s supporters were. The third protester, a young man in a bright blue shirt took out his wallet and began fiddling with an identification badge from the real estate firm SL Green that had his face on it.
According to Project Vote Smart, SL Green is one of Cuomo’s top ten corporate campaign donors. A spokesperson for SL Green declined to comment on this story.
While on the train, we attempted to get a picture of the protesters. As we departed at the Bleecker Street station, another passenger pointed us out to them and told them we tried to take their picture. The young man in the blue shirt cursed at us and the group left the station.
Outside, we saw the young man again and walked some distance behind him. Two blocks from the station, he turned and entered an NYU Law School residence. He approached us in the courtyard in front of the building and began to shout.
“You’re going to take out your phone and you’re going to take my picture, I should break your f**king phone right here!” he said.
After explaining who we were and showing press credentials, we asked him whom he represented and why he was protesting Teachout’s campaign.
“I’m a college student!” he exclaimed.
The young man turned around to leave before returning to inform us he wasn’t refusing to answer for “political” reasons.
“This is not a political thing where I’m walking away from your questions,” he explained.
He went on to say he merely objected to us personally before turning around and going inside.
“F**k you! You are the worst member of society,” the young man said. “I don’t need to speak to you. … Have a nice f**king life.”
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