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Posted at 09:22 AM ET, 11/11/2011

Occupy the Highway: Why they’re here

(See the main Occupy the Highway blog for the latest news on the march.)

There are 21 of them, dressed in camouflage and jeans and bandanas, their ages spanning more than three decades and their packs bigger than they are.
(Elizabeth Flock)

They all started at Zuccotti Park, where Occupy Wall Street was born and spread, but they are all on this march from New York to Washington for very different reasons:

Jackie Silberbush, photographer: Silberbush left her internship for three days to come photograph the march. “I may or may not go back,” she said.

Raghu Guiffre, writer: Guiffre has self-published a series of six books on economics and he says he considers this march his book tour. He also wants to be president.

Melvin Lee Hicks, electrician: Hicks was convicted at 20 of drug trafficking. He is now 32, and says he has not been able to get a job at the city or state level since. Instead, he works as an electrician in a county in Florida. “What do I want out of this? I want to America not to judge me for my past, but for my future.”

Sarah Handyside and Garth Kaiser, vagabonds: The couple have been on the road for years, so this march is a natural continuation of their every day life. They run a Web site about living without much money or possessions, Pursuing Nothing.

Michael Glazer, actor, co-organizer of the march: “As an actor, I spent so long playing other people, at some point you just want to be yourself…But I never imagined myself organizing this kind of march.”

Ephraim Cruz, Bronx for Change: Cruz is a former border patrol agent whistleblower, has run for the Arizona house of representatives, and campaigned for President Obama. Now, he runs a progressive accountability group in the Bronx. Cruz doesn’t think the president has delivered on his promises and he is marching for that.

James Keyes, artist: Keyes joined Occupy after coming back a failed attempt to start a jewelry business in Arizona. “When I was 8 years old, I realized I’d be an artist, and I knew I’d go from place to place, and eat out of trashcans, and it would be rough.” Keyes says he doesn’t blame the “one percent,” but thinks the country needs a lot of help.

Cologino Rivera: Rivera just wants to be a part of Occupy. After the march, he says he wants to go to Occupy Miami to hit the beach.

Mae and Patrick: Mae, a member of the Working Families Party, quit her job as an executive assistant at a double decker bus company to join Occupy, saying she wasn’t content to sit around and be “cattle.” She met Patrick at Occupy Wall Street, where they were in the same working groups. “We became cuddlebuddies” soon after, Mae said.

Harry Newman, playwright: Newman was involved in a predecessor moment of Occupy, called “Bloombergville,” to fight against austerity measures in the city. Newman says he grew up “upper lower class,” so he understands their concerns.

For the next two weeks, Elizabeth Flock will be reporting from the sides of East Coast roads as she makes her way from Elizabeth, N.J. to Washington, D.C. with a group of Occupy Wall Street protesters. Follow her on Twitter @lizflock.

By  |  09:22 AM ET, 11/11/2011

Tags:  National, Occupy Wall Street, Occupy the HIghway

 
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