Monday, February 6, 2012

Janet Wilson: The Story Behind ‘Occupy the Roads’

Woman Spreads Occupy

Wall St's Message Via RV

By Sharon Adarlo
About a week ago, a large and brightly decorated RV appeared next to Newark's Military Park, where a cluster of tents for Occupy Newark has held their ground since mid-November.
Photo by B.C. Lorio
Plastered on the vehicle's exterior walls are slogans and posters from other Occupy Wall Street sites across the country and messages from activists. And inside is a cheery woman, Janet Wilson, dispensing hot coffee, crackers, and moral support.
Wilson heads "Occupy the Roads," a mobile extension of the Occupy Wall Street protests.
Since early November, Wilson has been driving in her RV from city to city and documenting dozens of Occupy Wall Street protests, encampments, and interviewing activists along the way.
Wilson said she was inspired when she saw the first Occupy Wall Street protests in New York City last year. Smarting from a mortgage that was worth more than the value of her home in Puget Sound, Washington, Wilson said she identified with the activists' message of economic justice.
"Before Occupy Wall Street started, I had a problem with the way government was running things and how rights were being taken away little by little," she said.
When she heard about the protests, Wilson said she reacted with,"Oh thank God. People are finally standing up."
She was in Detroit on a business trip at the time and decided to travel to Manhattan in early October, around the time when police made hundreds of arrests in Zuccotti Park.
Wilson then went back home, set up "Occupy the Roads," and got a used RV. She hit the road on Nov. 8 and has gone down the West Coast, traveled the South, and went up to Newark where she arrived last Sunday.
Along the way, she has visited 42 cities. New Haven, Connecticut, is next on her list.
Meanwhile, her very supportive husband is back home and taking care of their three dogs.
Wilson said she sunk her own money into the venture, but is soliciting donations for gas and base expenses. Like-minded people are welcome to hitch a ride with a few taking advantage of her largess.
Occupy Newark protesters welcomed her support, said Tino Fuentes, one of the activists.
At the encampment, Fuentes said, there's about 40 to 50 people at the site with a few more people coming everyday.
The encampment has grown since its establishment in November with an outdoor toliet, an information tent, and a large green tent where meetings and meals are held.
Electricity is siphoned off one of the light poles in the park. Showers can be had at a supporter's home, Fuentes said.
So far, there's been no movement from the city to evict them, Fuentes said on Friday.

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