From Occupy to Walkupy as crew strolls through Rowan

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 5, 2012

By Shavonne Potts
Cologino Rivera left a job where he’d been a cook for four years to bring awareness to what he calls a broken system.
Rivera joined Occupy Wall Street a few days before the demonstration ended and then he joined Walkupy, a mobile occupation, which grew out of the New York movement.
He and 17 others made their way Wednesday through Salisbury, where they planned to stay overnight at First Presbyterian Church.
The Occupy Wall Street movement began Sept. 17 in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District and spread to more than 100 cities throughout the United States.
The resistance movement is spurred on by the disparity between those with a little and those with a lot.
“Everyone has a different idea or opinion on where the country is going. We believe the system right now is broken,” Rivera said.
He said the rich have so much and the poor so little that “it’s not fair anymore to the average citizen.”
Rivera, who is a native of Cozumel, Mexico, said people have misinformed opinions about the occupiers and in some cases walkupiers — believing they are all unemployed, have no life or are “just hippies.”
The opposite is true, he said, as many are educated and have a lot of ideas about the current state of things.
“I hope people will understand what we are doing and comprehend that we want something better for everybody not just for ourselves, but for everybody,” Rivera said.
The group began the walk Dec. 1 — the anniversary date of civil rights activist Rosa Park’s arrest.
The group will end its journey Jan. 15 at Martin Luther King’s gravesite in Atlanta on his birthday, with more than 700 miles of travel behind.
Alanna Davis, a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, became interested in the movement during her fall break while at home in Raleigh.
Then a week ago, Walkupy made its way through Chapel Hill.
“I was very excited to hang out with them because I knew what they were doing,” she said.
She rejoined the group a few days ago and will leave the walk early to go back to college.
Her parents are generally supportive, Davis said.
Davis said her parents went to an Occupy event in Raleigh before she’d had the opportunity. Her parents are more concerned with her safety and return to college.
“It’s an incredible opportunity for the Occupy movement to meet people and talk to the 99 percent like everyone in between, people who don’t realize they are sometimes,” Davis said.
She also welcomes spreading awareness and building community in the Occupy movement.
Davis hopes her fellow college students understand there is a “possibility of a different world, a different way of life, a different system. It’s not going to be easy. We all need to work together.”
Paul Sylvester began with the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York where he was for a month and a half until he decided to become involved in smaller movements.
Sylvester began traveling south and found himself in Raleigh.
“I stayed with Occupy Raleigh for about a week and a half until Walkupy showed up and I knew it was going to be a perfect experience for me,” Sylvester said.
The New Hampshire native said February will mark five years he’s been traveling.
“I think it’s going to be a really good experience going through these towns. I hope people are interested in coming to meet us to talk and maybe to meet us to join,” he said.
Sylvester encouraged people who see the group to approach and say hey.
As a self-described “restless individual,” Sarah Handyside was 18 when she left home.
She never had an interest in “living a lifestyle of consumerism.”
Handyside willingly “dropped out of society,” to pursue what she wanted or nothing at all.
“It doesn’t work for everybody,” she said.
Handyside found herself amongst others during the Occupy Wall Street movement. She joined with the Walkupy movement not too long ago.
When she needs money, Handyside has taken odd jobs and has relied on kind strangers to clothe, feed or provide shelter.
She doesn’t envision herself stopping.
For more information about Walkupy, go to
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.