He bought a backpack, enough food for a couple of weeks and a plane ticket bound for New York and joined a movement.
Occupy Wall Street was the objective, and Danny Garza of Sacramento stood ready to answer the call.
The U.S. Navy veteran turned anti-war activist joined thousands of others in New York on Sept. 17 to protest what they see as corporations' pervasive power and influence and to turn Wall Street into "a center of dissent," he said.
Garza, 26, a pre-law student at Brandman University, returned home this week, where plans are already afoot to "Occupy Sacramento."
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Loosely organized and largely engineered through Facebook, Twitter and other social media, the Occupy Wall Street movement has quickly gathered steam, spreading to cities from Boston to Chicago to Los Angeles and beyond.
The days of demonstrations in New York moved Garza. He had saved money for months for a decent backpack and food, finding his way to New York's Zuccotti Park "not knowing if we'd be successful. It was intense. We built up momentum real fast.
"Libertarians to anarchists were all there for the same goal. It was life-changing for me," Garza said. "There was definitely a feeling of people before profit, of helping the poor before helping the rich."
They called themselves "The 99 Percent," self-described victims of the recession, who have lost homes, jobs or health benefits and are making choices between groceries and rent.
"Everybody was there for different reasons," he said. Garza trekked to New York to speak out for campaign finance reform and against "corporate personhood – corporations being able to buy out our politicians."
"People from Texas, from Spain would get online to order pizzas for us. People were in the streets making solutions. We were getting thousands of messages saying, 'Don't give up the faith.' "
Sacramento's nascent movement held its general assembly Saturday at Fremont Park and is planning rallies downtown at 9 a.m. Thursday and 11:30 a.m. Oct. 15 at Cesar E. Chavez Plaza, Ninth and I streets, across from City Hall.
Nearly 2,000 people "like" Occupy Sacramento's Facebook page, where fliers and wall posts declare "The People are Too Big to Fail," "We Will No Longer Be Silent," and "Protest. Rally. Occupy."
Garza said the populist movement that started in the nation's financial center resonates in Sacramento and other cities.
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