How will Occupy strategize to combat violence, health concerns?
A protester at an Occupy Portland event pleads with police to let them stay at their gathering site.
November 14th, 2011
01:08 PM ET

How will Occupy strategize to combat violence, health concerns?

As the Occupy movement confronts concerns from police and politicians about violence and public health issues in encampments across the country, some members seem to be preparing to move their cause forward - even if it means leaving the parks and public spaces they've called home for months.

The movement is believed to be at a crucial stage right now. Colder weather is setting in. The willingness of public officials to accommodate the movement is at odds with their desire to protect public health and safety. And concerns about violence at the gatherings are reaching new levels.

Police in riot gear moved into the Occupy Oakland encampment early Monday, tearing down tents and arresting some protesters, the latest effort by city officials across the country to control a movement that some leaders say has become a public safety and health threat. Oakland officials had warned protesters to move out of Frank Ogawa Plaza over the weekend. Before dawn Monday, police surrounded the plaza and lined up in the streets where protesters had gathered. The eviction notices came after a "frequent resident" of the camp allegedly shot and killed another man.

An uptick in violence at the gatherings, including some deaths and allegations of vandalism, has led officials to try to control the movements as organizers try to battle what they call fringe violent groups at the protests.

Police break down Occupy Oakland camp

In Philadelphia, Mayor Michael Nutter said Sunday that what started as a peaceful protest 39 days ago has given way to increasing public safety concerns.

"Occupy Philly has changed," he said. "We're seeing serious health and safety issues playing out on an almost daily basis. ... The people of Occupy Philly have also changed, and their intentions have changed. And all of this is not good for Philadelphia."

The health concerns stem from allegations that unsanitary conditions at the camps - resulting from public urination and crowding - present a danger to the public There was also concern about a strain of tuberculosis found near the protests in Atlanta, but a movement leader said that tests showed no disease among Occupy Atlanta members, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

So how are some members of the Occupy movement trying to keep their message moving forward and staying positive amid all of these concerns?

It appears that ahead of winter, they're preparing to encourage members to take the movement into their own neighborhoods and spread the message in a more meaningful, and perhaps personal, way.

They're calling it Occupy Your Block.

"The strength of our movement rests on our ability to engage one another. The Occupy movement is more than a physical occupation. This movement is in each one of us; in our will and determination," a statement on OccupyYourBlock.org states. "It is in our local community organizations, religious groups, schools, and neighborhoods. To bring attention to this, Occupy Wall Street is calling for the winter months to be a time of teach-ins, open forums, potluck meetings, discussion groups, local general assembly meetings and community building projects. ... This is how our movement builds."

The site promotes the idea that now is not just the time to "Occupy" places, but to organize grass-roots discussions to ensure that if the time comes when members can't occupy the areas they have been, their discussion will still move forward.

The site is complete with a calendar of local events, such as an "Occupy Wall Street Teach-In" at Sarah Lawrence College and a discussion about public housing during the Harlem General Assembly.

It is perhaps an answer to the question many have proposed: What happens next for Occupy when attempts are made to disperse the large gatherings?

The call to action against unequal distribution of wealth and other causes began in September in New York's Zuccotti Park before it spread nationwide and then globally. Some of the concerns from the start were how long protesters would be able to stay, how they would move forward when they were dispersed and how they could do so successfully.

Certainly, the question still exists. People still question what exactly Occupy wants to happen, what an end game would look like and whether the protest will have a real impact.

While those specifics may be open to interpretation, it seems the movement has no intent of slowing down, despite its obstacles.

One breakout group from New York recently began a two-week walk from Zuccotti Park to Washington, where members hope to arrive in time for the congressional super committee hearing where politicians are working to forge a deficit reduction deal at the heart of concerns of the Occupy movement.

"The plan is to make it to DC on November 23 for the Congressional Super Committee meeting which will be deciding whether the Bush tax cuts to the top 1% will stay or go. We want these cuts gone! We are taking action to fight for the 99%! Please join us if you are able," the website for the march says. "Whether for an hour, a day, or the full two weeks, we feel it’s imperative for OWS to respect and participate in the historical significance of long distance marches to support, promote, and encourage economic and human equality."

They're planning to march in historic fashion. In the most basic fashion, picture the image of Forrest Gump as he just kept on going. That's what the Occupy group hopes to do as members stop at key locations in Philadelphia along the way to encourage people to join in as the "Occupy the Highway" marches to Washington.

A flier asks people to join in the walk at major cities along the route.

Over the next few days and weeks, concerns from officials will challenge protesters looking to continue to make their voices heard. It remains to be seen how being removed from the areas they've inhabited may affect that ability.

But  the movement already has seeped into the conversation enough that it may have staying power, wherever it ends up.

Case in point: Our partners at Time.com are asking readers who they believe will be their Person of the Year for 2011, and the 99% have more than a 10,000-vote lead. If nothing else, that means people are paying attention. And perhaps, that's precisely the point.

soundoff (173 Responses)
  1. banasy©

    People who continually keep sticking to the misconception that OWS is about taking away personal wealth are just not *listening*.
    These preconceived notions are those of people who are stubborn in their beliefs, and that will not be changed.
    Therefore, I shall not try anymore.
    We don't want to take personal wealth away from the people who have who earned it with hard work and sweat equity.
    That isn't, and has never has been, the definition of redistribution of wealth.

    November 15, 2011 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • yannaes

      I have good and bad news: the good news first, go home and take a break, the bad news is that no matter how long one is on the street protesting, the system will not change for you.

      November 15, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • BobinCT

      Then define redistribution of wealth

      November 15, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • DoNotWorry

      I'll redefine redistribution of wealth. For several decades, this country has seen a massive redistribution of wealth to the top, aided by corporate welfare, tax breaks and fraudulent practices. This has all been done through collusion between corporate executives and government. Occupy protesters frequently picket about specific areas of corporate malfeasance, but it is all under one umbrella of corporate-government collusion to move assets up the chain. Even though Bush gave corporations 8 years of Deferred Prosecution Agreements which ensured that they would get no jail time or criminal records for fraudulent behavior... they are now threatening the public that they will "go away" to other countries unless we make all criminal behavior legal. The redistribution back down would be created by stopping corporate fraud and bribery. Note that corporations are hiding about $12 trillion in offshore tax havens... this money is fraudulent withheld from stockholders and taxes are not paid. Corporations want a free pass to bring the $12 trillion in the country without being held accountable for taxes. Illegal charges for services, skewed contracts, theft, nothing is outside the bounds of stealing from average citizens. Stop the theft and you start the redistribution of wealth back to citizens. It is more a return of stolen funds.

      November 28, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. BorisH

    How will Occupy strategize violence, health concerns? By going home and disinfecting themselves, for a start.

    November 15, 2011 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
    • DoNotWorry

      There would be little or no violence if the police were not violent. See how easy? Back the police down and citizens are safer and healthier. How many protesters have been hospitalized for police brutality? How many have been hospitalized for health problems caused by protesting?

      November 28, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Peikovianii

    They will meet any problem with complaining and the sound of conflicting voices! March on! Or sit. Anyone got weed?

    November 15, 2011 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  4. yannaes

    How about taking a shower, using Lysol to disinfect yourself, then put on clean clothes and ask mommy to fix you a nice warm breakfast? How is that for a beginning.

    November 15, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • DoNotWorry

      The British Raj called Gandhi that nasty little man in a dirty diaper. He won.

      November 28, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    I see a lot of right-wing nutjobs blogging in here condemning the OWS protesters. But did any of them ever have to go hungry or watch their kids do the same? This kind of ignorance here is totally repulsive. But then again, what can one expect from people who don't how to think???

    November 15, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • BobinCT

      I am a conservative and when I was 20, I lost my parents and was living day to day. Yes, even a few nights on the street. So don't tell me I don't know the difference. That experience taught me to find programs to get me into school and I have rebuilt my life and live very comfortably.

      November 15, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. B.S. SHUT UP OR PUT UP DONT JUST SIT THERE

    NOT EVERYONES LIFE IS EASY MY FRIENDS AND AT THE RATE THE COUNTRIES GOING " OWS " IS THE BESSSST! BRAVO OWS

    November 15, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DoNotWorry

    OCCUPY! Our country is going down mainly due to corporate fraud abetted by corporate-owned media, congress, presidency, and supreme court. Time to wake up and occupy. The right-wing nutjobs are saying a lot of nonsense about the movement because they listen to corporate-owned media. And believe what they hear. Nearly all of the occupy protesters' comments comes down to the main point of corporate fraud and corporations bribing government officials... made legal now by the Supreme Court, which does need to be impeached.

    November 28, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
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