Casa Grande twins, 86, 'occupy' in protest

By Melissa St. Aude

Casa Grande Dispatch

Published: Thursday, Oct. 20 2011 1:05 a.m. MDT

Two octogenarian twins, Laura McCoy, left, and Leta Hughes garnered cheers, honks and waves from passing cars as they held a mini-protest in front of Casa Grande City Hall in Casa Grande, Ariz. on Oct. 17, 2011.

Casa Grande Dispatch, Steven King, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

CASA GRANDE, Ariz. — When 86-year-old twins Laura McCoy and Leta Hughes believe in an issue, few things can hold them back. With the Occupy Wall Street movement sweeping across the country, the Casa Grande sisters said they felt a need to get involved and be a part of the effort.

Since last Thursday the sisters have made it their mission to venture out each afternoon, homemade signs in hand, to protest on Florence Boulevard in front of City Hall. They do so, they say, because they want to show their support for the Occupy Wall Street movement and because it was a good opportunity to draw attention to issues they feel strongly about including better pay for teachers, police and firefighters as well as troop safety and job creation.

"We like getting involved in politics," McCoy said. "If there is something going on that we don't like, we always try to get involved."

Going out each day to protest has its hurdles.

Both sisters require use of a wheelchair or a walker and Hughes, who has a heart condition, uses an oxygen tank.

Hughes' son drives them to their daily protest, helps unload their wheelchairs and signs and often stands with them, holding a sign of his own.

Despite the afternoon heat, they try to remain in their protest spot for at least a few hours each day, holding their signs and waving at drivers.

And while no one has stopped to join them in their protest, McCoy said that they have received much attention from drivers.

"They honk and they wave and we know that they are glad we are there," McCoy said.

Being involved is nothing new for the sisters, who moved to Casa Grande in 1997. They campaigned for President Barack Obama in 2007 and said that throughout their lives, they have always made an effort to make their voices heard.

They routinely call politicians to share their views on various issues and offer advice.

"It only takes a minute and you can say a lot in one minute," Hughes said.

While protecting teacher, firefighter and police pay is an important issue to the sisters, they said they also feel deeply about protecting the troops.

Both sisters are widows of World War II veterans.

"Our husbands were heroes," Hughes said. "All the troops are heroes. These kids today have been sent on a suicide mission (overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan) and if we can bring an end to it with our agitating, then that's good."

Extended family members are serving in Iraq, McCoy said.

McCoy said the sisters put a lot of thought and planning into creating their signs and they usually agree with each other about which issues to support.

The slogans on their signs reflect their views. Some of the signs they carry read: "Sales tax on Wall Street," ''Corporations are not people" and "Create jobs, not war."

McCoy said she hopes to inspire a younger generation to get involved and get their voices heard and while she wishes others would join them on the protest lines, she understands why young people might be reluctant to do so.

"They have been supportive. People do stop and say supportive things," she said. "But people are afraid to come out and join us. Anyone who has a job these days is afraid that, if they come out and protest, they might lose their job."

Information from: Casa Grande Dispatch.

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