Occupy Houston members protest for 54th day

November 22, 2011 4:19:00 PM PST
This is the 54th night Houston occupiers have stood their ground. They claim there are between 50 and 100 of them every night. A day after a shooting there, two days before Thanksgiving and weeks before it likely gets really uncomfortable outside, we wanted to know just who they are.

By his account, JJ Freeman was the only thing on Monday afternoon between the gunman and the Occupy Houston camp he calls home.

"I keep everything I own in this crate. This is my daughter Padme," Freeman said, showing us photos. "She turned 14 months old today. And last night, what happened -- I honestly thought I was never going to see her again."

Freeman is an unemployed cook and security guard protesting out of frustration that he hasn't been able to find work for more than a year.

"I was doing professional window cleaning," protester Jamin Stocker said.

A month ago, Stocker had two jobs.

"The work dried up," he said.

Since then, he's been here. He's content to occupy a park, even though he has family in Houston he could stay with and jobs he could get.

"I do not want to continue to contribute to a system that, as a whole, screws people over," Stocker said.

"I attended Houston Baptist University. I've got two degrees from there, graduated in '09," protester Taryn Nash said.

Nash is one of the few female occupiers in Houston. She's a 24-year-old unemployed teacher-in-waiting from Huffman.

"There are no jobs right now," she said.

So she's occupying.

At 54, John Sandoz could be the father of this group.

"These are my kids," Sandoz said.

He was living with a sister in Baytown, has nine years experience as a Continental ramp agent, one more offshore on an oil rig and now, nothing.

"It's work living out here," Sandoz said.

Just as there is no list of demands, there is no typical protestor either -- just a shared sense of frustration that dreams are just out of reach.

"I am sick of corporations getting what they want and regular people not getting what they deserve," Freeman said.

There is no spokesperson, no leader, no hierarchy to these movements -- and no firm date to leave either.

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