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. dr.RUFFNUTT

    KEEP shooping at waltmart you little pesants... soon i will own you all..

    November 16, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mongoose

    These liberal neanderthals, OWS'ers, got pushed back in a single night. Their movement is done, caput, over. Now we must impeach obama and his liberal chronies, and force him to work a real private sector job, which will be his first.

    November 16, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • redwine

      WDC- SUMMER 2012!!! SEE YOU THERE!!! YOU HAVEN'T SEEN NOTHING YET!!!

      November 16, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • mongoose

      Yes I have, you should be at the white house not on wallstreet. Too ignorant to understand why, that is what is truly sad.

      November 16, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • tommyrock

      Do you like the number 88? Just wondering.

      November 16, 2011 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Connected to reality

      redwine

      WDC- SUMMER 2012!!! SEE YOU THERE!!! YOU HAVEN'T SEEN NOTHING YET!!! No enough violence not enough crapping on sidewalks not enough raping women not enough racism? We need more! Do me a favor I am sick of hearing about you fascit communist people. Who is paying you to stay out months at time in the rain. I wish people would quit feeding you, you cut off the food and pests leave. It works with roaches and mice it can work with you people. Your not getting anything changed./

      December 10, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Karl Dew

    Yet another puff piece from CNN on this cancerous movement. It is amazing to me the sheer volume of positive reporting CNN has done on this movement versus the amount of negative reporting they did on the Tea Party. You should be ashamed of your bias CNN.

    November 16, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Koseki

      Let's see, one movement sponsored by the ultra-rich in order to get ignorant racist rednecks to vote for them, and another movement of people upset at how money controls Washington. Which deserves to be seen in a negative light?

      November 16, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini

      Such is to be expected from a jerk like you with your obvious limitations, Karl Dew!!! Such idiocy like yours should really be outlawed here!

      November 17, 2011 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  4. Texas Coyote

    CNN has done one hell of a job, marginalizing, censoring, and putting a negative spin on this important movement. I now have to look for a more objective and relevant new outlet!!

    November 16, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Fnordz

    ?they think that we’re just going to sit down and take it. We’re not."

    No, you'll walk around like lost children and take it.

    November 16, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sandra LeVin

    OWS = Parasites on parade

    November 16, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Alexandra

    Karl... one word.....Fox News.

    November 16, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. DavidS

    Marty Linsky please stop pretending you know what you are talking about or just admit you’re trying to destroy OWS with advise. Your rules of leadership would destroy OWS and you either know that or you are over paid for your services.

    November 16, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. izy

    lol, these conservatives think to much of themselves to know that they wont win, they promote hate and support walking on people, lol, we outnumber them thats what scares them, we actually own them, they just dont know them, OWS BABY!!!! 😉

    November 16, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Base

    We need to speak to congress.... REALLY FAST.
    DOW JONES is heading for dark turmoil.

    They need to talk about JOBS!! JOBS!!! JOBS!!!!

    November 16, 2011 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. bigwilliestyles

    It sure is easy to talk tough in cyberspace, isn't it? While I support OWS, and have no problem understanding what it is they want, I am just as sure that their present tactics are not the tactics needed to win the day...

    November 16, 2011 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Truejoy

    OWS' real relationship to the homeless works like this : in my town, when it rained all night, OWS didn't give so much as a tent to the homeless people who couldn't squeeze into our shelter. They are not homeless. The reason they were evicted from Oakland is that they smashed businesses windows in, graffiti'd up all of downtown and closed a Sea Port so that no one could work and get paid while they were 'occupying'. They are doing a march next week called "Oakland and Cairo are one hand". I read their literature on it, which referred to 'our Egyptian counterparts'. I just hope the US fully grasps the difference between first amendment free speech and a riot, which, left alone, will become a full blown riot, like the ones in Egypt, as seems to be their plan.

    November 16, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. AJ

    TO THE "OCCUPY WALL STREET" PROTESTERS: IF YOU WANT TO CONTINUE SUPPORTING THE SYSTEM THAT KILLS YOU, THAT CRUSHES YOUR FAMILY AND YOUR SPIRIT, THAT SUPPRESSES YOUR GOD-GIVEN RIGHT TO LIVE IN FREEDOM, THEN LET "OCCUPY" DIE... IF, HOWEVER, YOU REALLY WANT CHANGE, THEN YOU MUST BE WILLING TO PAY THE PRICE. IF YOU REALLY WANT CHANGE, THEN FOLLOW THE EXAMPLE OF GANDHI, WHO REGARDED POVERTY AS THE GREATEST TYPE OF VIOLENCE MAN CAN PERPETRATE UPON ANOTHER. IF YOU REALLY WANT CHANGE, LOOK TO THE EVENTS HAPPENED IN FRANCE IN MAY 1968 – YOU MUST HAVE THE WILL TO SEE THIS THROUGH, FOR THE MOVEMENT HAS BEGUN. REMEMBER, "We want structures that serve people, not people serving structures!" And, "We don't want to be the watchdogs or servants of capitalism..." THERE WILL BE DEFEATS – AND A JUDGE'S RULING MAY BE A SMALL SMALL SETBACK, BUT I AM CONVINCED IT IS THE DIASPORA OF THIS MOVEMENT. CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE MUST PROVOKE EVEN GREATER RESPONSE, IN ORDER THAT THE LIGHT OF KNOWLEDGE WILL BRING ABOUT A RIGHTEOUS RESULT... FREEDOM

    November 16, 2011 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Cody

    OWS is anti-corruption, whats wrong with that?

    November 16, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  15. bigwilliestyles

    ...They are attempting to fight crony capitalism with street demonstrations that have no affect on capitalisms most important component-the bottom line. This is almost 2012; the age of the social media driven movement. They vastly under estimate the power contained within communications technology...

    November 16, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      @BWS-They are being covered by the Media=recognized. They are holding signs=message visual. Christmas time is coming=shopping with money=speaking with what they(cronys) love most=spend it where it hurts the most. Do not use credit cards and carry a balance.

      November 17, 2011 at 5:51 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8