How Occupy Wall Street compares to the tea party
Occupy Wall Street protesters demonstrate in New York on Tuesday.
October 13th, 2011
08:45 PM ET

How Occupy Wall Street compares to the tea party

Neither movement wants to be identified with the other, but commonalities between Occupy Wall Street and the tea party including being born out of anger and frustration are hard to ignore.

"I think the target is different, but the frustration (among Wall Street protesters) is the same, and the frustration is a sense that these institutions are no longer working for average Americans," said Kate Zernike, a New York Times reporter and author of the book "Boiling Mad: Inside Tea Party America."

Some of the criticisms being levied against the Occupy Wall Street movement are the same as those made against the tea party in its infancy, according to Zernike.

"The portrayal of the Occupy Wall Street forces, fairly or not, has been people who don't really know what they are there protesting," Zernike said. "You can launch the same criticism about the tea party. Many people who showed up to tea party meetings or rallies didn’t really know what they were there protesting."

Click the audio player to hear the story from CNN Radio's Steve Kastenbaum:


The tea party is a political movement that became integral to the Republican takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives last year. The Occupy Wall Street campaign began in July with the launch of a campaign website calling for a march and a sit-in at the New York Stock Exchange. Protesters have taken up residence in a Lower Manhattan park and have inspired similar protests nationwide.

Much like the Occupy Wall Street protesters, people who attended early tea party events were upset with the economy, and they felt that the system was no longer working for the average American. Zernike said it took a while for the tea party to coalesce around some specific ideas at the start, too.

“They can say that they have different goals. But the spirit is very much the same,” Zernike said.

People affiliated with the tea party vehemently deny any similarities between the two movements.

"The concern here is that they are targeting Wall Street executives, when in fact, really, they should be targeting their message toward the government,” said Deneen Borelli, a fellow with Project 21, a network of black conservatives.

Borelli, a frequent speaker at tea party events, pointed to hundreds of arrests at some early Occupy Wall Street protests and said there were no similar confrontations with authorities in the early days of the tea party.

"This is where I don't see the comparison of Occupy Wall Street to the tea party movement," Borelli said. But she did acknowledge that a sense of frustration with the system is prevalent across many spectra of society today.

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Filed under: Occupy Wall Street • Politics • Protest • Tea Party
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. chrissy

    u were correct banasy it wasnt "necessary" just as "dummy" and "cupcake" werent but it made you feel better to say them correct? The whole conversation wasnt necessary and unwarranted!

    October 14, 2011 at 8:04 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. chrissy

    and neither was evil doers! and although she "says" she will no longer be posting here, shes back again, stirring the pot!

    October 14, 2011 at 8:11 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. fernace

    @ Jazzzz & your friend Philip! As I have stated to Phil I used to like his posts when he was sober! He had alot of info & travel experience, which made for insightful repartee! Now he has obviously gone back on the bottle & his posts are all about himself, child abuse, Hitler & his reverence of him! And somehow God is focal in his very demeaning rants! Jazzzzz, have you read the ugly, mean, crazy stuff he has posted! If he is your friend I hope you insist he get some help! We've all "read" the decline of his faculties & hope he does have some1 who can lead him back to "normal" again!!

    October 14, 2011 at 8:15 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. OWS

    Occupy Wall St. represents 99% of normal, average, everyday hard-working, middle-class Americans while the Tea Party solely represents the interests of the right-wing radical extremists that can be identified as hard-core neo-fascist supporters. Leave it up to the Tea Party and you will have a government that will look more like the Northern Sudanese or Somalian governments do now. The Tea Party's only goal is to bring the US Government down to it's knees, and we all know that will never happen !!!!

    October 14, 2011 at 8:24 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • wearethe99

      You are describing the financial backers of the tea party. Many people that make up the Tea Party are hard working people who love their country. Just as we do not want people to lump us in with the radical fringe, we should do the same in terms with the T-Party. We need to unite on common ground rather than rip each other apart.

      October 17, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • William

      No wonder this country is so F'd up.

      November 1, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. banasy©

    @chrissy:
    The "dummy" statement is something our friend likes to use on other people. These two posts are the only time you will see me use those terms.
    And, you're right, of course.
    Your "polesmoking" statement was one of the funniest thing I've ever heard! I'm going to use it, with full props to you, of course! ;)

    October 14, 2011 at 9:51 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. chrissy

    your more than welcome to, lol, i was frustrated. im tired of bein attacked by philip & co. lmao.

    October 14, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. artistchd

    OCCUPYNEERS =”Occupy Wall Street”= We The Public People Power Plan + Positive Population Protests = Unification = Unified Statutes of America + Africa = Our USAA PROMISED LANDS MultiplexRacialBody governance x Spiritual Renaissance Movement = via COLOR KINGDOM New World Creative Arts = AmeriAfrindian ArtistCHD’s RealiVision vs. Religions & Politics!!

    October 14, 2011 at 10:54 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Bill

    The most glaring difference is, in addition to their lack of big-business backers, lies in the fact that the Occupy Wall Streeters don't tout God and religion and that Domionism mentality. Looks like a bunch of average folks who are desperate to make their multi-faceted plight known to the power elite any way they can. If nothing else they're fed up with the largely Teavangelical-sonsored gridlock and partisanship in Washington....talk about the "PARTY OF NO." How can one put so many issues into a simple answer to the question....what do you want to accomplish? It's too bad they don't have a spokesman with some gravitas who can represent them on the media instead of those shots of scruffy characters wandering around.

    October 14, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bob G

      Average huh?

      Did you see the picture of the guy deficating on the police car?

      What is average to you is not neccessarily average to most!

      October 15, 2011 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
    • wearethe99

      Great response. @ Bob G – you don't question the fact that the photographer just happened to have a clear shot? Just happened to be in the right place at the right time...or could he be a guy that already had a grudge against the police and saw the movement as his opportunity to get revenge? How do you know he is even with the movement? One guy out of how many? Same with reports of drug use...compare those "criminal stats" with the same stats of NYC. Occupy Wall Street is probably a lot safer than many neighborhoods. Maybe that has to do with police layoffs in poor communities. Just saying...

      October 17, 2011 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Iluvamerica

      http://www.pbs.org/now/politics/cointelpro.html

      October 26, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. RainMade3

    Simple: the OCCUPY PARTY is the tea party of the LEFT

    October 14, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Daniel Byrne

    Society needs a Rigid Code of Conduct for the Financial Profession like the Hippocratic "Do No Harm" mantra.

    Unlike the medical profession or the military that operate under rigid codes of conduct, the financial professionals are generally amoral and absolved from and rewarded for their mistakes at extreme costs to their clientele. Financial operatives profit on sales of bogus products (Credit Default Swaps, bundled Bonds with ludicrously labeled AAA ratings), took profits when their clients lost (commissions, fees, and insider trading) and bet AGAINST their clients (multiple insurance policies), because deregulations in the 80s allowed them to. A civil society should hold an industry accountable its systemic failures. No group, irregardless of any factor, should be allowed to inflict such devastating destruction to world economies and individuals lives without recourse. This industry decimated the economies of several Nations, and yet they were the only group to profit from the demise. Lack of a firm hand has allowed this to be one of the last professions that doesn't operate under a code of conduct and questionable conflicts of interest are the norm. All that matters is profit. It's like your doctor treating you with snake oil to cure your cancer because he gets a manufacturer's kick back and because he's taken an insurance policy out on your death and he wants you to die. This behavior is of course ILLEGAL in medicine but LEGAL in finance.

    October 17, 2011 at 4:55 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. jamarsu

    Well a really big difference is the Occupy Wall Street protestor's don't bring guns to their gatherins and don't spit on our congressman, like the hateful tea party people.

    October 19, 2011 at 10:07 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Lasantha Pethiyagoda

    The attempt to portary the Tea Party motivations and the Occupy Wall Street protest as being similar is nothing but more of the disinformation designed to mislead misinformed, gullible and apathetic citizens further and confuse the public. The protestors do in fact know some truths that the media do not want to be public knowledge. The corporate mega-rich elite which is probably much less than 1% ( surely it can't be 3 million people, if the total population is 300 million!) have, over many generations, milked the wealth of the country for their own greedy families, far in excess of any conscionable basis. For example, some people would have a DAILY personal salary (or profit) that is several hundred thousand dollars!!) while the population (in excess of 99%) subsist on $50 to $500 a day. These corporate oligarchs are closely linked to the political hierarchy and their media accessories. Profit motive as a business concept has been carried into an immoral, criminal, unjust system that extends from exploitation of labour at domestic level, to wars with third world countries on various false pretexts, in order to colonise and subjugate them while their resources are expropriated. The danger to the world is incalculable if this status quo is maintained. With world population reaching 7 billion, many more millions will starve to death or be bombed each year, simply to prop up these few greedy criminals. it is therefore appropriate to dismantle this system for the greater good.

    October 19, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. John W. Moroney

    Occupy Wall Street????
    Let's occupy all of America!!!
    Support Ron Paul

    October 23, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Donald

    The Tea Party changed the country with a massive republican landslide in the 2010 elections.

    The OWS movement got a park dirty.

    October 31, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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