Occupy Wall Street: Homeless but not hopeless
Protester Michelle Obando, right, sits in New York's Zuccotti Park on Wednesday, a day after it was cleared of protesters in a police raid.
November 16th, 2011
05:41 PM ET

Occupy Wall Street: Homeless but not hopeless

The day after police swept through Zuccotti Park in New York - the birthplace of the Occupy Wall Street movement - and pulled down the tents, protesters wandered the streets of lower Manhattan like lost children.

(Click the audio player to hear more on this story from CNN Radio's Steve Kastenbaum)

Police on Tuesday cleared protesters from the park after its owner raised health and sanitation concerns. A judge said that although the demonstrators can return, they cannot camp out there.

Some demonstrators, after the eviction, were weighed down by heavy backpacks filled with everything they had used to create a home in the park. They looked tired, dazed and confused as they wondered what would happen next to their nearly 9-week-old movement, which has been a call to action against unequal distribution of wealth.

“This doesn’t fracture us. This makes us stronger,” said Pete Dutro, a member of the Occupy Wall Street Finance Committee, which oversees the donations that have poured into the movement. “They go and do something this extreme, and they think that we’re just going to sit down and take it. We’re not."

“We’re regrouping. We’re going to come back harder, faster and leaner,” he said.

Whether the protesters have an around-the-clock encampment at Zuccotti Park doesn’t change much of the criticism that has been levied against the Occupy Wall Street movement, chiefly that the movement lacks a focus and direction.

"Kicking them out of Zuccotti Park got them back on the front page, but the issues that were there a week ago are still there now,” said Marty Linsky, co-founder of Cambridge Leadership Associates. His company consults with leaders in the public, private and nonprofit sectors to help them turn ideas into actionable goals.

“There is no focus. There’s no focus on the policy side or the programmatic side,” Linsky said. “And there’s no focus on the personal side. There’s no person who is the symbol of this movement.”

He believes that without either of those, it will be hard to sustain the momentum. Linsky said the situation now cries out for some focus, either on policy or leadership.

Others think the eviction from Zuccotti Park will serve as a catalyst for the movement to rally around a new set of ideas.

Economist Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, thinks this will cause the tactics to change, but the focus will remain the same. “The issues that have been raised by Occupy Wall Street will become central issues of our politics,” said Sachs, who credits the movement with shifting the U.S. debate on public policy.

“It’s quite remarkable because Occupy Wall Street is only about 8 weeks old,” Sachs said. “And yet it seems like we’ve been absolutely immersed in these issues, in the debates, the op-eds, the editorials, the news stories, and this has really been absolutely important for America and for our democracy.”

Many protesters think that the evictions that took place in New York and other cities, rather than being a setback, will galvanize the Occupy movement on a national scale. Historian Eric Foner thinks that’s a strong possibility.

“It could be a blessing in disguise,” Foner said. “I think being at Zuccotti Park had great symbolic importance. It’s right next to Wall Street. It was a focus of attention all over the world.”

But Foner, an expert on social movements in America, said Zuccotti Park in some ways was holding the movement back.

“It immobilized everyone. They were just sitting around Zuccotti Park all the time," he said.

Foner said he believes this could cause Occupy Wall Street participants to take a giant step forward in the evolutionary process of a social movement.

“I think you can look at historical precedents of movements that were disrupted or pushed away by police and came back stronger than ever," Foner said. "And so, it depends on the strength of the movement. It depends on what their next step is.”

Where Occupy Wall Street goes from here is the big question. Bill Dobbs, a member of the movement’s press committee in New York said that "whatever the details are of hanging on to this park, a jolt has been sent through the American political system."

“The ideas that we put in play and all the actions that are scheduled and all the people that have been inspired by it are going to keep going, and we’re getting stronger,” Dobbs said.

You can listen to the CNN Radio Reports podcast on itunes or subscribe to the podcast here.

soundoff (179 Responses)
  1. Mike

    WOW! More mooooosh coming form someone living in his moms basement!

    November 18, 2011 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  2. Mike

    Look at the pictures, these people are of all ages, and race unlike them there TEATARD Parties!

    November 18, 2011 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  3. rs1201

    I'm not quite sure why most people on this board attribute any criticism of the occupiers to the Tea Party. I'm not a Tea Party member and I totally disagree with the methods and all the actions of the occupiers. They've been disrupting NYC for two months and haven't been able to come up with a coherent list of grievances or demands. What exactly is it that these good for nothings want? do they want a job or do they just want money handed out to them without any obligations...they should know that most people out there think it to be the latter. Some of them have admitted being unemployed by choice...well...good for you...keep it up...you'll see how far you get in this life. My advice to all these morons is get a list of grievances or demands NOW or just disperse and get a job or go back to school. Certainly, disrupting other people's lives is not going to get them anywhere!!!!

    November 20, 2011 at 7:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Anonymous

      Seriously... This is probably coming from one of the corrupt wall street brokers. We have been proving that you have no power over us, and that we are no longer slaves to a broken system.

      January 31, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. OWSisReal

    The tea party hates minorities and Jesus!!!

    November 20, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Forever Will

    Humble Horace, While you may think that we are trouble makers with nothing better to do than to show up and cause trouble, all we ever want to do is to be heard and our government has never listen to its own people, only to those to funds their political race. This is not the country I want my kids to grow up in. If the city officals wants to trim dollars spending overtime to those cops who wants nothing more to get a piece of us, then hear us out and support us.

    November 22, 2011 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
  6. Forever Will

    The tea party claims they are fed up with our government and what they have done in the past, Its funny wondering why they waited to do something about it until after Barack Obama was elected president.

    November 22, 2011 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • jay

      They thought it would easy going after the black, but what they found out were they are so wrong T-party!!!

      December 8, 2011 at 1:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Weldon Gebhard

      Visit a Patriots/TeaParty meeting and you will get your questions answered. Don't be a onesided Ed Schultz, etc.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. OWSsupporter

    Whomever would give up their liberty for safety, deserves neither.

    November 22, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Weldon Gebhard

      Those that make the comments I see printed and hear on radio/TV have obviously never been to a Patriots/Tea Party meeting.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. anotherOWSsupporter

    I've read so many comments pertaining to the movement that make it out to seem like a bunch of hobos got together or a bunch of lazy ingrates started a movement and just wouldn't leave. Whether the movement has focus or not is not detrimental to the cause unlike others would think. There can be multiple focal points and reasons. The rich are gaining more wealth yearly while middle class and poor gain little to no ground. The rich are also shipping jobs overseas while begging for bailouts from the same people they fired or gave a pink slip too. Our politicians have become so extreme that no comprise can be birthed. You cannot have relations in spite. You have one party who sides with the wealthy, and the other party says it sides with the middle class and poor, yet when they had the branches of government, they did nothing. And there are so many more reasons these people are protesting.

    This is also more of a sit-in than anything. Do historians and people not remember Dr. Martin Luther King? The man did sit-ins all the times and everything went smoothly. What the social movement expert failed to explain and say after stating the movement needed a symbol is that the symbol will fall (not Zocotti Park) and that will galvanize the movement more. As far as evolution of a movement goes, that is where this is headed. People think we are in a class war now and they haven't seen anything yet.

    November 30, 2011 at 5:39 am | Report abuse |
  9. taxi driver

    Indians are stealing american jobs, throw indian out of america and everything will be fine!

    November 30, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Connected to reality

      Opens the door for you to leave.

      December 10, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mark

    From a song I wrote in 1992: "Corporations are not human, but only they have human rights"
    This is now true under the law, corporations have "rights" like an individual, and actual individual human beings are just being trampled on. The movements goal should be to change the tax laws, nothing more.

    December 10, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Connected to reality

      How many of these protesters are putting this much energy into getting paid or are they employed by Unions to protest?

      December 10, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • wisdom

      You are right when you say that the few on top have all the rights we are technically their slaves. However you most understand that few are only interested in a keeping it that way so they will never tell you the true meaning of the protest. The few owns the media and controls what they want us to know!

      December 12, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Connected to reality

    I hope the rapture happens soon. To many idiots on this planet.

    December 10, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Connected to reality

    What the hell is wrong with money, you EARN it you spend it. None of your business. I am NOT going to give YOU loosers my hard earned money. Throw me in Jail. I earned my money you don't get my hard earned money.

    December 10, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
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