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.

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soundoff (179 Responses)
  1. dr.RUFFNUTT

    time for you little poor unemployed people to go somewhere else...outta sight and outta mind... try colorado..

    November 16, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • OWSsupporter

      What a senseless and rude comment. Because people were so rudely evicted it will only drive them to protest more, so be ready 🙂

      November 22, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Winston Steward

    They are not wandering the streets – they are at 60 Wall Street, an indoor public space, having meetings.

    November 16, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. RUFFNUTT

    Whatever happens, I'm still 100% for the OWS. I too am unemployed and very upset with the way Washington does business!

    November 16, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. dontrenigin12

    why dont you all go to greece or something,,,or hell...

    November 16, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gabe

      Why don't you?

      November 16, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • OWSsupporter

      Lol, I'm with Gabe.

      November 22, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. dontrenigin12

    Occupy Wall Street: Homeless , hopeless,and STUPID.........

    November 16, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • George Patton

      Here goes another mindless Tea Partier spewing his ignorance on this web page. Evidently, this bozo has no idea of what it's like to be hungry and not to be able to pay one's bills. This kind of stupidity is really neaseating, to say the least!!!

      November 16, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. john dahodi

    The best way out for the occupy wall street protesters is to organize the movement using following steps: (i)Should have central organization with at least 20 office bearers of good standing and clean honest career including President Carter and so on; (ii) Divide the groups based on their grievances like homeless, mortgage foreclosures, unemployed, medical issues, graduates unemployed, unemployed due to outsource, large bank greediness,stock market greediness, political corruption, lobbies terrors, capitalists greediness; millionaires greediness and so many others (iii) each specified group should be directed to join hands together and stage demonstration during the working hours at location of their head offices through out America on daily basis. The protesters can meet at the central place but divide in groups to demonstrate at different locations peacefully keeping good manner and following rules and regulation using non-violence means distributing and shouting meaningful slogans and hand over write-up to the media, press and who ever is visiting these buildings. Unless the movement is planed and projected in a organized way, nothing will happen. The 1% interested party is waiting for the early demise of the movement. They think it is almost at the last stage and burial is closer than they thought.

    November 16, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • George Patton

      Good posting, john. Like you say, the OWS needs to get organized and protest the way Washington does business because all these useless and unnecessary wars along with the excessive and needless military spending is bringing our economy to it's knees!

      November 16, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mayflower

    dontrenigin12: shut up. Don't like it? Tough.
    Ass hole.

    November 16, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. will Chapman

    I hate to (be the first here to) say this, but it's hardly appropriate to compare Zuccotti Parks' events, and those of the 99% thus far to the Arab Spring.

    The percentage of people staging the revolution in Tahrir Square, etc. was a large part of the population.
    Those people had so little, that they had little to lose. They'd been marginalized and oppressed for decades. In North America, way too many people, the real status quo, will NOT take such risks, because they have too much to lose. Once enough people in America are seriously affected, this movement could have teeth, but until then, a few hundred, or even thousand people demonstrating, with no clear action plan or demands, will likely end up affecting very little change.

    MOST people are still just too apathetic and comfortable to get off the couch, or leave their job site and go out and be counted.

    What percentage of the people in your city are protesting???
    Not even .9%.

    Sad, but true.

    November 16, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. bobcat (in a hat)

    This is totally off topic, but I had to get this down.

    Did anyone else see on the CNN Money page about these two dozen millionaires going to congress today to demand that their taxes be raised ? They're lobbying congress to the Bush tax cuts expire.
    I would have never believed it if I hadn't read for myself.
    You guys are a real class act.

    November 16, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • realitycheck

      you know they can just go ahead and pay more if they really wanted to, they accept donations

      November 16, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Frothy discharge

    Change. Change! Does anybody hav any change?

    November 16, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. banasy©

    @Will Chapman:
    I don't know of anyone comparing OWS with Arab Spring; I think most of the populace are much smarter than to think that the two are even remotely similar.

    As for the rest of your post, we shall see what we shall see.

    November 16, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • will Chapman

      To be clear,
      I am 100% in support of the Occupy movement, I just feel that it is a long way from having a real affect until the percentage of people demonstrating, increases immensely.
      I guess I just wish that more people would stand up and be counted. I live in Canada, where we have comparatively good health care, etc. We're not really affected by the 1% to the same degree. I wish the movement every success.

      November 16, 2011 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. banasy©

    @bobcat:
    I looked, but I didn't see it.

    November 16, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio)"Right Wing Insanity"

    Communism. No matter how you cut it. Now it has it's hooks in OWS. OWS is nothing more than a group to disrupt the economy, and overthtrow the United States Government. They think thier Freedom of Speech is being hindered now? After this country transitions to Communism, the next time they whine in any park, the government will simply shoot them as political dissodents. You see the article doesn't mention the burden to the City of New York had to pay to send in a small army of sanitation workers and over 23 garbage trucks full of hypodermic needles; spoiled food; and human waste. Zucotti Park was host to scabbies; head lice; and a host of other bodily issues. So go ahead you tea party and republican bashers, and you go ahead AND TELL ME, what it's going to be like. You see...I would not say ANYTHING behind your backs, that I couldn't say STRAIGHT TO YOUR FACE.

    November 16, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe the Mechanic

      Why does everything look like communism to a republicon??? Do you guys have some communism beer goggles that you wear that clouds your judgement and vision......

      November 16, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff Frank (R-Ohio)"Right Wing Insanity"

      @Joe The Mechanic – I'm sorry, I don't know what a "republicon" is. But if I'm understanding your post correctly. That would be like me saying, every time you encounter a "check engine light", you sum it up by saying, the light means your car is broke. Your perception of me is unacceptable, so go away.

      November 16, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • OWSsupporter

      Aren't you a real Joseph McCarthy.. SO my question to you is when is it apropriate for us to stand up for ourselves?

      November 22, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. bobcat (in a hat)

    @banasy
    I'm sorry, I forgot you're not on a pc. But really couldn't believe what I was reading. Like I said before, These guys are a real class act.

    November 16, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Roadsniper

    Thes people are not umployed i see people getting involved .i dont see anybody else getting involved but them . So if its not than will it be those who dont give a dam? Of course not ever since 911 its been financial turmoil for this country. Now the 1% are running scared they should! Because people in this country have suffered enough at the hands of the wealthy. Oh by the way thank you canada for the support!!!!!

    November 16, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
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