Occupy Wall Street protesters walk 200 miles, eat at Co-op

A traveling contingent of Occupy Wall Street protesters came through the campus yesterday as part of their two-week odyssey from New York City to Washington, D.C., stopping at the Maryland Food Co-Op to eat and spend time speaking with students from this university.

The 25 “Occupy the Highway” marchers were cobbled together from various protests on the 200-plus mile trek from Zuccotti Park, the now-famous square in Manhattan’s Financial District that played host to the genesis of the grassroots anti-corporatism movement that has now spread across the country. Two students joined the group at the Co-op and continued on with them.

“I find it really amazing that they would take the energy — it’s a logistical nightmare to walk over 230 miles,” said sophomore geography major Jordan Tessler, a member of Occupy UMD. “Especially in the middle of November, it’s just really inspiring.”

While several marchers had come from New York, there were protesters from all along the route — Delaware, northern Maryland and, now, College Park. And their beliefs were as varied as their hometowns: Marcher Cologino Rivera, for example, said “[the] initial goal was to protest the supercommittee in Congress, and the Bush tax cuts for the top one percent,” but has since become a “protest in solidarity … Occupy Wall Street is really protesting the whole system.”

Several others said the point wasn’t to protest at all, but simply work toward a sustainable society. New Yorker Melvin Hicks had a more general notion of the movement:

“I was losing faith in hope and humanity in America,” Hicks said. “This march showed me that people have a heart and want change. This right here shows me that there’s still hope for this country.”

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