Occupy Wall Street: Free Ride for Homeless, Jobless, Penniless?
1 year ago
Protesters find companionship, solidarity -- if not purpose at Occupy Wall Street
Twenty-one year old Troy Gregory was making the rounds on a recent Friday afternoon at Zuccotti Park in downtown Manhattan when a man approached him with a sales pitch for a prison justice newspaper. It ran the blank, spectacled glare of Troy Davis on page A1. He didn’t have 50 cents until a bystander stepped in.
“I thought this protest was about Troy at first,” Gregory said looking at the newspaper, raising his voice to be heard over a pulsating drum beat happening just feet away. “Just like with the all the last minute outrage over Troy Davis, my first reaction was, well, why wasn’t this being done sooner? It’s getting colder out here, not warmer.”
Gregory is a fixture at the Occupy Wall Street protests in Liberty Square, which are fast closing on its fourth week. After 700 protesters were arrested this weekend, many have questioned whether it will strengthen or weaken the protesters resolve. But stories like Gregory’s underline one of the realities of the protests here: Many of its participants have little -- if anything -- to lose.
Wearing a black v-neck t-shirt and a black fedora, Gregory says he was released from jail earlier this year where he served 30 days for theft. He said he stopped being homeless in July. And yet, Gregory makes easy conversation; he is the ultimate networker at the Mecca of Occupy Wall Street protests, a growing movement with people seemingly from all walks of life.
Gregory confesses to not having a grasp on all of the issues, including why Wall Street is being targeted by the financially oppressed, but is a tireless and effortless networker. He talks to people about why they are there, and has made friends, including a model periodically at the protests whom he boasts had just arrived from Paris.
He wears his presence at the protests as a badge of honor.
“For some people, ignorance is bliss,” he said. “This is not a rap battle. Some people are not willing to fight for what they believe in. But the people here are fighting for something that’s not just about us.’