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. RAMBLE3144

    Dopey CNN rushed to get their biased story up and spelled it "homelss".

    November 16, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gracko

      Yup – I noticed that too. Conservatives whine about the supposed 'liberal media,' but CNN has been bashing and cherry-picking it's OWS stories and photos from the beginning... when it chose to at least devote story space to the movement. There is no liberal media.. they are all beholden to whomever will pay them the most money for advertisement space.

      November 16, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • lauradet

      I see "homeless" what's wrong with you?

      November 16, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. CmonNow11

    Dopey protesters rust to judgment on wall street, when its really the politicians' fault

    November 16, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • RT

      And who controls the politicians? Do you need a hint? How about it is not who it should be.

      November 16, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Thomas Payne

    "...tired, dazed and confused." A very good description of the OWS (bowel) movement.

    November 16, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • redwine

      WDC- Summer 2012!!! See you there!!!

      November 16, 2011 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. genomega

    These people are the product of public educations Marxists indoctrination and what used to be called higher education in this country.

    November 16, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • redwine

      WDC- Summer 2012- We will regroup!!!

      November 16, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bert Bigdongle

    Wait Michelle Obama is eating pizza? Thought she was the food nazi in chief making everybody eat lettuce and similar crap.

    November 16, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Peikovianii

    Read about the Children's Crusade if you want to see how this nonsense starts and how badly it ends.

    November 16, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • redwine

      WDC-Summer 2012- See you there! Oh, maybe not!

      November 16, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. michaelfury

    “There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart that you can’t take part! You can’t even passively take part! And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus — and you’ve got to make it stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it — that unless you’re free the machine will be prevented from working at all!!”

    – Mario Savio on the steps of Sproul Hall, UC Berkeley, December 2, 1964


    November 16, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • redwine

      We will meet in WDC- Summer 2012

      November 16, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Peikovianii

    Yeah, that's the kind of ranting required. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Children's_Crusade

    November 16, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. American Citizen

    I'm pleased that the media hasn't given up on these young people. I wish the people in this nation would open those unoccupied buildings to at least get them off the streets. These are your fellow Americans. Have some pride in our nation. These are primarily young people, not decades long persons that have been homeless for most of their lives. Even so – show some humanity.

    Where is that Christian brotherly love?
    Got a spare bed?
    Let one come in and sleep – welcome them and feed them. These are people.

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

      Wrong idea, let the cops use more wood and water cannons. Most of them are worthless and lazy and if you let them into you home they would probably steal you blind.

      November 16, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • redwine

      Cobra, WDC Summer 2012!!! See you there!!!, leave your ve...before you go

      November 16, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. forreal89

    wow wish I had nothing to do. Maybe it would have been more resourceful to help the homeless and look for a job. The occupation wasted tax dollars because a ton of people could not act right.

    November 16, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • redwine

      The second round is coming. Are you ready for it?

      WDC Summer of 2012.

      November 16, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Peikovianii

    OWS says: Hegelian Reality is unreal, therefore the mind can't understand it, therefore Man is a mystery, ethics are situational not absolute, and therefore Life is a hustle, and success must be a form of crime. If Men are to be made equal (and by now, what could it really matter?) it is only by forced equality. You are mystics preaching Creationist Economics. You think the Zeitgeist has designed an economy to match whatever skills you possess in a stoner Eden.

    November 16, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • redwine

      I just want a just an socio-economic system that favor more people, not only a few.

      November 16, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Why Use Facts

    Homeless, but not hopeless, and absolutely clueless.

    November 16, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • redwine


      November 16, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mongoose

    Look at those shoes. They are hopeless homeless liberal lunatics.

    November 16, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Corbs

      This statement is very hateful. You need Jesus

      November 16, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • mongoose

      It isn't hateful in the least. Show me where it was.

      November 16, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      @mongoose- You are shallow.

      November 17, 2011 at 5:35 am | Report abuse |
  14. redwine

    I propose that we all regroup in WDC. We should walk from different parts of the USA, camp along the way and regroup in front of Congress.

    November 16, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • mongoose

      If you want to protest anything, do so on the white house lawn. Remember, obama received more from wall street than any past president in history. Nancy Pelosi was recently caught doing insider training, it was on 60 minutes a few nights ago. Even the liberals are starting to wake up.

      November 16, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      @mongoose _Don't forget it was also John Boehner, and Eric Cantor and...........

      November 17, 2011 at 5:37 am | Report abuse |
  15. socalpimp

    come on...nobobdy cares about a bunch of losers pretending it is the 60's

    November 16, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • redwine

      You haven't seen nothing yet. Of course, you are unable.

      November 16, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
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