Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What next for Occupy Wall Street?

Now that they have been "evicted" from Zucotti Park, the Occupy Wall Street crowd are at a turning point and will have to decide what their new focus will be. I'm sure that they will not be "going away", but I doubt that they can succeed at "occupying" any other space in Manhattan. If they try occupying a public park in NYC they will quickly run afoul of the new "no smoking" ordinance, not to mention the camping prohibition. I'm sure they will have lots of "pop-up" protests in the coming weeks and months. My guess is that they will try to "shut down" street intersections or business locations on occasion. Social media will facilitate such "flash mobs", but also make it just as easy for the police to keep tabs on them. But New Yorkers are used to occasional disturbances and closures from street fairs and parades to conventions and fires and accidents, so it is hard to imagine what the protesters could do to "phase" New York. And they have the problem of finding something to do that will attract the sympathy and support of the vast majority of the general public without annoying them and turning them off in the process.
If the "occupy" movement reverts to simply a "protest" movement, I'm not sure what they will accomplish. Sure, they will exercise their rights to peaceable assembly and free speech and make their grievances know, but is that really all they want, a permanent protest movement?
So, the open question is whether the occupy movement is about to fizzle out or morph into something else that is not known at this time.
I did walk by and through the "camp" on Saturday and it seemed to have less people than the previous Saturday, although it was now dark (5:30 PM) due to the time change, so maybe there is a natural waxing and waning of the camp size as the day progresses. Still, I would say that OWS was NOT "growing" in NYC. I think it had peaked and people were starting to lose some of their passion and commitment (and tolerance for the weather.) Not the hard-core who stayed until the police dragged them away earlier this morning, but the "hangers-on" and "tourist" protesters/activists and other "supporters" whose commitment was tentative at best. Sympathetic, yes, but deeply committed, not so much.
To me, the critical issue was whether or not the movement was poised to attract participation from the vast majority of the general public, and it seemed to me that the answer was a fairly resounding "no." Sympathy, maybe, commitment, nope.
That said, we will have to see how the movement decides to remake themselves in the coming days, simply as a protest movement or something else, and whether that something else draws in the participation of the vast majority of the general public. That's the essential question, whether to remain a "niche annoyance" or to "go mainstream." Personally, I don't think they have any chance of succeeding at the latter, but know knows what they may turn themselves into.
Meanwhile, back at The Mother Ship in Vancouver, BC, "Culture Jammers HQ", Adbusters.org, the puppet masters of the "Occupy" movement, have issued "Tactical Briefing #18" to provide guidance and inspiration to the "Occupy" movement, but that was issued before Zucotti Park was "cleared." It will be interesting to read what the movement's puppet masters come up with next. Their "tactical briefing" advises us:
We declare "victory" and throw a party... We dance like we've never danced before and invite the world to join us. Then we clean up, scale back and most of us go indoors while the die-hards hold the camps. We use the winter to brainstorm, network, build momentum so that we may emerge rejuvenated with fresh tactics, philosophies, and a myriad projects ready to rumble next Spring.


At 11:11 AM , Anonymous Angie IT said...

We have created a new group logo (see attached) "We are the movement, Be the change" and are concentrating efforts on not just demonstrations that raise awareness, but also on local community action. Occupy Wilmington NC has a zero arrest and violent crime record, and encourages solidarity with other Occupy groups to engage in local community programs, including cooperation with existent nonprofits and local business.

I see featured widely articles like this, and we would appreciate the chance to speak on the issue across the nation.


Occupy Wilmington NC - Press Release Nov. 15 2011


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