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. What???


    October 13, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. groovepin

    One blaring difference: "Occupy" is against corporate influence over our government, the "Tea Party" is for corporate influence over our government, as in the "corporations are people" stance, whereas Occupiers say that corporations are not the people.

    October 13, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dale Sickler

    Do you know what will happen if you take too much blood out of your body?
    Same concept of earth. we take too much oil out of earth that cause Inbalance of world
    STOP! what are we doing? STOP fighting, don't you see? you are hurting the earth.
    Stop! what are we doing? why are we not worry about earth? WHY are we worry about ecomoinic
    world. Money is illusion its not real. Dont you see what is real?

    October 13, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • groovepin


      October 14, 2011 at 1:23 am | Report abuse |


    October 13, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Kate ZirNIKE – Why do you waste my time with this. I was born out of pure RAGE.

    October 13, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. chrissy

    Well said groovepin! Its the american working class from all ages, race, and various political preferences! They are sick and tired of business as usual in our governing body!

    October 13, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. bigwilliestyles

    At 7 am, the mayor will send in 'security forces' to remove the protesters under the guise of 'cleaning the park'. Then they will claim that the protesters are 'violating the law' because of tents, sleeping bags, lying on the ground, etc. This thinly veiled ruse sets the stage for suppression of the movement by force. Game on.

    October 13, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. beachrat

    The OWS is a true movement of the people, disenfranchised people, whereas the tea party was promoted by the 1%, koch brothers etc

    October 13, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jj

    oh please. thats what you call recognition from the DEMS. you cant touch this nor try to emulate the tea party. they can try to leach off a good thing but sorry you will never hold the faith. you are a bleeding heart liberal that only has faith in a broken down gimme more stuff system. you cant have have taken far too much.

    October 13, 2011 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. chrissy

    @ jj, who are you talking too? & what is your suggestion on how 2 get the message across?? this movement is gaining momentum as we speak, & yes maybe it shouldve been organized more but the point is its better 2 do SOMETHING than to sit around & do nuthin

    October 13, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. V

    When will you learn? How long will it be until you open your eyes? We are not a political (Tea) party, so the time has come to stop labeling us as such. What we are is the word you fear to utter, we are the Revolution. You play ignorant and claim you don't know what we want. Do you not realize that you need us more than we need you? Very soon you will. You have until 01-01-2012 to right your wrongs. If by that time our demands are not met, we will be forced to remove you from every seat of power you hold, starting with the White House. On 01-01-2012 we will march unarmed into the White House and take it. You will then be left with only two options, get out of the way, or be prepared to shoot unarmed American civilians. The choice is yours. We are the people. We are the 99%. We are Anonymous. We are a legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.

    October 13, 2011 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. chrissy

    And i thought you were a smarter man than this. The teaparty supports the l% that are gaining while the working class suffer. How are you going to feel after working hard all your life and its time to retire and you cant because the gov misused yous ss??

    October 14, 2011 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  13. chrissy

    And if the working class do not speak up now they will never be heard. Its time for us, all of us, to come together and let that ungrateful l% know that we are NOT going away, and we are NOT willing to work our butts off for scraps.

    October 14, 2011 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
  14. Jj

    i waS crazy worded earlier wow sorry about that. ill get back to you when i have something valid to say. YiKES!

    October 14, 2011 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
  15. WOT

    Greed,Greed, and more Greed is why the movement has spread! The average American is not the White poor, Black poor, or hispanic poor they are the JOBLESS! When a bank can get billions for a Bail Out and a none working man can not get a dollar for a loaf of bread that is why all hell is going to brake loose! GOD HELP US ALL!

    October 14, 2011 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
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