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Student loans add to angst at Occupy Wall Street

Many of the twentysomethings protesting in Manhattan have racked up sizable debts, and some are left to wonder whether their diplomas may be worth less than their cardboard signs.

October 25, 2011|By Geraldine Baum, Los Angeles Times

Cynical, perhaps, but when he read on the Internet about the rumblings down near Wall Street, he decided to join the fray.

"I kept seeing posts that everyone there was upper-middle-class and while their hearts are in the right place, they're trying to represent something they don't know," said Grant, who hitched a ride the two hours to Manhattan on Thursday.

His first day at Zuccotti Park, he seemed baffled by some of the flakier characters around him.

" 'I choose compassion,' " he said, reading a sign near him. "What the heck does that mean?"

He figured he was seeing "my generation's hippies.… At least they're better than hipsters. We don't like them."

The longer Grant spent perusing this poor man's Olympic Village, the more he became intrigued by the variety of grievances and the spirit. At one point, a chorus of protesters called people over, announcing, "The think tank is going to be discussing corporate personhood. Right here, right now."

Grant looked interested. But before he could say anything, a man who said he was from New Hampshire photographed Grant's sign and bellowed at him: "Lame, you're lame.… Stop complaining. Get a job."

Grant had been mostly silent the last few days, but this time he fired back: "That's why we're here, buddy. We can't get jobs."

By Tuesday, Grant had found work with the organizers running a camera — something he learned in college. It won't pay, but he said it felt good to have purpose.

"I've gotten a job with the movement," he texted. "It's eating up all of my time."

geraldine.baum@latimes.com

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