Road to Wall Street comes to intersection with NATO protests
Published: Monday, May 21, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
In February of this year, several of California’s Occupy members set out on a journey to justice all the way to Wall Street. Packing up their bags, they left their lives behind them to make the more than 3,000 mile trip.
And they have been doing it on foot.
“It’s liberating. I used to be clean-cut and shaven,” laughs member Adam Peck, with a now overgrown beard. “And I used to have a job and an apartment. But I found out about the walk and knew this is what I wanted to do.”
Known as Occupy Walk, the group started at San Diego’s Civic Center and trailed through California, Arizona and New Mexico. About 800 miles into their trip in Albuquerque, they decided to take a detour. The group unanimously decided it was their duty to team up with Occupy Chicago and show support at the NATO demonstrations. Once the decision was made, they emptied all of their supplies in Albuquerque, piled into their support vehicle and made their way up north.
“The NATO summit is really big news with all Occupies and progressive groups around the world,” said Walk member Adam Peck. “So we decided it would all be best to come to Chicago.”
The “walkupiers” cover between 10 and 20 miles a day, while their support driver, Chris McKay, drives his car a few miles ahead to prepare a resting spot and lunch for the group. Taking much-needed days of rest between long walks, when they are not traveling, they are doing outreach within the communities they pass through.
“We saw that a lot of people have never even heard of Occupy Wall Street,” McKay said. “But we try to explain what Wall Street actually is and how corporate greed is writing the laws of American politics.”
Knowledgeable on current and historical issues regarding foreign matters as well as down to the community level, one of their aims is to collect specific issues within communities—issues which may not always be covered in the news—and tell the stories to others along their journey.
The group was very passionate towards a situation they discovered in the Navajo nation of New Mexico. According to a bill issued by the Senate—SB2109—the Navajo people are forced to sell off a majority of their water to be used for commercial use outside of the reservation for a price which payment wouldn’t be seen until 2022. According to McKay, this would leave 38 percent of the homes without any water.
“If you walk through Navajo, you notice there isn’t any agriculture and they don’t even have water in the water hole,” Peck added. “We all agreed that this was a problem where something needed to be done.”
Occupy walk then joined with a Navajo-based grassroots organization to stand up against the government and voice their demands for water rights. Since coming to Chicago, many members of the group have been spreading word of their experiences in Navajo to the many Chicagoans they meet.
Occupy Walk has people talking through the discussions on their social media networks. Events along the walk are live-streamed-rallies, protests, police encounters, and everything documented is relayed to their Twitter (@OccupyWalk) and Facebook pages. People reach out in several ways: through donating money, offering up their homes or cooking them dinner. Residents of the towns sometimes take part in the walking, even if it is just for a few blocks or a mile.
“So many people care, but they all say the same thing: ‘I know it’s messed up, but what can I do? I’m only one person,’” said McKay. “Well, there’s something you can do, you can Occupy and let your voice be heard.”
Here in Chicago, while Occupy Walk has been actively participating in various rallies and protests, member Danny Johnson was arrested on May 15 and charged with a felony for “aggravated assault.” Police claimed that he punched an officer off his bike; witnesses say the officer grabbed him by the collar and he turned around to see who it was, brushing him in the chest. The other members are no strangers to protest arrests; several have been arrested in demonstrations in other cities, but resulting with their charges thrown out.
Occupy Walk plans on being back in New Mexico by May 24 to continue the walk from the exact location they left for Chicago. Anyone can follow their route at OccupyWalkUSA.org, or help them out at their donation page, wepay.com/donations/walk-across-america. Their blog aims to keep the public updated on the current issues in America, and urges to participate to start making a difference.
“Instead of sitting at home and watching TV and not talking about the problems that everyone knows we have, we have to come out on the streets and speak out our problems,” said McKay. “That’s what the walk is doing. It’s empowering people to understand that.”