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

    It is hillarious how peoples bias can spin this articles meaning and intent. These two posts were back to back posted 10 minutes from each other.

    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 | Reply

    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 | Reply

    November 16, 2011 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • DoNotWorry

      I think CNN says some soft things, but they do marginalize it mostly through photography... one article had a photograph of a gay couple leaning on each other.... perfectly designed to freak out the Tea Party. Let's see, youth with wild hair, ditto. Interviews with those who are poor speakers, as if you need to be articulate to realize that this country is corrupt. In fact, you don't even need to be educated to realize this problem. Also, CNN reports heavily on how bad the protesters are, but most of them are middle class and very respectful. I have noticed that most trouble starts in the middle of the night... police come in and roust out protesters at 3 a.m. A couple groups of young men have come in and created damage in the middle of the night. All of these evil behaviors are under cover of darkness... as evil frequently is. In the light of day, people would see that police are abusive, or that a group of young men have not been involved with the protest except to come in and create an incident (hmmmm who sends them in at night?). For a more balanced view, watch film clips on YouTube. Also, I am starting to watch The Young Turks online because they don't speak like fools... they way you see in mainstream corporate media. They ask harder questions.

      November 17, 2011 at 2:29 am | Report abuse |
  2. bigwilliestyles

    The OWS movement has succeeded so far, but to think that signs and shouts will win the conscious of people will to put women and children in the streets for a 2% point increase in quarterly profits is the naïve thinking of youth. They only send in the police to make the protesters feel that occupying a park is major...

    November 16, 2011 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bigwilliestyles

    ...And ignoring the fact that we now have the means to organize simultaneous world wide actions that have the ability to drastically affect that bottom line that is the lifeblood of crony capitalism...

    November 16, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • DoNotWorry

      Corporations do want you to think it is ignored and unimportant. No so. In poker that is called a BLUFF. I'm seeing some shifts in bank behavior. 650,000 accounts were pulled from big bank to credit unions and regional banks. They pooh pooh it, but I know an exec at a major bank and their CEO is freaked. BLUFFING. Congress is also freaked. They all hope it will go away. Why do you think it is all "what do they want?" They don't want to give up the corruption and are wishing they could cut an easy deal to get rid of OWS. NO EASY DEALS. CLEAN UP CORRUPTION! Occupy!

      November 17, 2011 at 2:33 am | Report abuse |
  4. bigwilliestyles

    Because even the most ardent proponent of capitalism will admit that it still boils down to supply and demand, and that the people consit.t.ute demand. So we have, right now, the means to take down crony capitalism with organized GLOBAL BOYCOTTS. Using the recent reversal of Bank of America's capitulation as an example, and social media as our weapon, no corporation or politician would be beyond our reach...

    November 16, 2011 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • DoNotWorry

      YAY... I am already boycotting all items made outside the U.S. and some inside... Koch Brothers have got to get their noses out of government. ALEC has to go. Lobbying is bribery and has got to go. Corporations must stop writing laws. Yes, we can taken them down. Occupy! Boycott!

      November 17, 2011 at 2:35 am | Report abuse |
  5. bigwilliestyles

    ...And yet, we, working from the comfort of our homes, can put out TECHNOLOGY in the streets globally, rather than our bodies, saving our thinkers from hunger, the elements, and over-zealous authority forces. It is the perfect tool, perfect! It only has to be harnessed and applied correctly...

    November 16, 2011 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • DoNotWorry

      I believe that people in the streets is an effective tool and helps focus. There are many flims on YouTube of police brutality and of people marching that will never make mainstream media. New news source: The Young Turks online. I recommend it.

      November 17, 2011 at 2:37 am | Report abuse |
  6. TexFandango

    If the Occupy Wall Street crowd represents 99% of Americans – or even 51% – why don't they simply effect their wishes by voting in candidates aligned with their philosophy? Of course, the reason is that they don't represent even 5% of the American voters, and the only way they can garner public attention is to encamp themselves on public and private property and play to an ever eager 24/7 electronic media starved for 'news'.

    We have a democratic process in this country (despite the lunatic fringe who screams otherwise) so if the acolytes of OWS want to prosecute change, they should do so through the ballot box. Of course, that would obligate upon them some coherent and specific policy changes rather than slogans and bumper stickers.

    November 16, 2011 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. bigwilliestyles

    ...Today's social media is to the OWS movement what electricity was to Ben Franklin, to Thomas Edison, to Alexander Graham Bell to Bill Gates to Steve Jobs. Jobs foresaw the potential; it is up to us to harness it properly and use it accordingly.

    November 16, 2011 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. bigwilliestyles

    Long Live OWS!!!

    November 16, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • DoNotWorry

      And Long Live YouTube!!!! CNN and Faux News are corporate-owned and controlled.

      November 17, 2011 at 2:38 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio)"Right Wing Insanity"

    Bernie Madoff occupied Wall Street...

    November 16, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. banasy©

    Now Bernie occupies a prison cell.

    November 16, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio)"Right Wing Insanity"

    It would be thier luck, they walk in on the trading floor and drive the Dow Ind. UP 1000 points.

    November 16, 2011 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio)"Right Wing Insanity"

    @banasy lmao

    November 17, 2011 at 12:03 am | Report abuse |
  13. saywhat

    Change results from movements not thru ballot boxes. That only changes faces.
    When socio-political though process & mindset needs to change it requires a movement.

    November 17, 2011 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
  14. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio)"Right Wing Insanity"

    Zucotti Corp. (zows) +.32com + .50pf vi

    November 17, 2011 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
  15. ted

    Take a pause, a break, regroup, refresh, refocus, new momental. Don't worry...

    November 17, 2011 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
    • DoNotWorry

      Don't lose heart! You are making a difference! You are electrifying this country and the 99percent is finally waking up! GOOD JOB.

      November 17, 2011 at 2:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      @DoNotWorry-whew-it is about time!

      November 17, 2011 at 6:03 am | Report abuse |
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