Forty days after joining the Occupy Wall Street protesters in Zuccotti Park, Bryan James, 23, is quite settled in: He’s a committed participant in the protests, a leading member of the movement’s sanitation team and most recently, one of the featured activists in MTV’s “True Life: I’m Occupying Wall Street.”
MTV announced Tuesday it will air a special episode of its “True Life” series next week that will take viewers “deep inside the movement” to “capture the day-to-day realities of the protesters, and uncover some of the motivations that continue to drive them.”
The episode will profile three protesters, James, an artist from Northampton, Mass., and Kait Cornell and Caitlin Connelo, best friends and Pace University students in New York who seem to act more as cheerleaders for the movement than organizers.
“Most of the people who watch MTV are in our age range,” said Connelo, 20, who, in addition to time spent at the protests, is juggling a full-time course load and part-time job. “We’re definitely someone they can relate to.”
But it is James, an unemployed, determined 20-something, who is the starring protagonist in the episode. Munching on his donated dinner of rice, steak, cornbread and tomato-mozzarella sandwiches, he’s clearly anything but the typical 20-something.
“My generation gets the reputation of being apathetic and politically uninvolved,” he said. “I heard about [the protests] and wanted to take action. I decided I had to be here.”
And that decision, rooted in the group’s shared resentment of corporate greed and corruption, is unwavering. “We will stick it out in the winter,” James said. “I plan on being here for as long as it takes.”
Volunteers such as Cornell and Connelo, who commute in from their dorm in Brooklyn to “not take provisions away from protesters who need them,” are helping to make that happen.
“We help with anything, whatever they need,” Connelo said. “Doing their laundry. Recycling. We’ll educate people walking by, whatever.”
Cornell, who together with Connelo could easily be mistaken for the “Two Broke Girls,’” agreed: “This definitely lit a fire in me. Now I’m all about trying to change the world.”
The full episode premieres Saturday, Nov. 5, on MTV. Until then, watch this five-minute preview of the special, featuring James and other protesters at Zuccotti Park, as they frantically clean through the night to avoid eviction.
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