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. luke

    thias is bullshut shot them all dead

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

      Learn to communicate better you buffoon...

      November 17, 2011 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
    • jack

      That proves it all. You are no different from the monsters at the top. Beware, your fall is near.

      November 17, 2011 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
    • DoNotWorry

      Emailing from the prison computers, are you?

      November 17, 2011 at 2:09 am | Report abuse |
  2. luke

    where i go from me and friends and government would strangalate to death protesters and bandits

    November 17, 2011 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      Are you even American, let alone educated? Your posts make absolutely no sense whatsoever.

      November 17, 2011 at 1:42 am | Report abuse |
  3. bigwilliestyles

    Hey! You 'that won't work' people: weren't you the same ones screaming that "white people will never vote for a Black man for president"? Yeah, I remember you! Howed that work out?

    November 17, 2011 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jj

    i have to eat ramen n my phone gonna get shut off for the next week. im not cryin. i have food in my mouth and a roof over my head. somehow that just Isnt enough nowadays

    November 17, 2011 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
    • DoNotWorry

      Glad you are hanging in there. Keep up the good work. I also have a roof over my head and food on the table, for which I am grateful. However, that does not mean I condone corporations writing laws instead of members of Congress. I don't know about you, but I just did not vote for even one of the following members of ALEC:
      CenterPoint 360, W. Preston Baldwin – Chairman
      Altria Group, Daniel Smith
      American Bail Coalition, William Carmichael, Jerry Watson
      AT&T, William Leahy
      Bayer Corp., Sandy Oliver
      Coca-Cola Company, Gene Rackley
      Diageo, Kenneth Lane
      Energy Future Holdings, Sano Blocker
      ExxonMobil Corporation, Randall Smith
      GlaxoSmithKline, John Del Giorno
      Intuit, Inc., Bernie McKay
      Johnson & Johnson, Don Bohn
      Koch Companies Public Sector, Mike Morgan
      Kraft Food, Inc., Derek Crawford
      Peabody Energy, Kelly Mader
      Pfizer Inc., Michael Hubert
      PhRMA, Jeff Bond
      Reed Elsevier, Inc., Teresa Jennings
      Reynolds American, David Powers
      Salt River Project, Russell Smoldon
      State Farm Insurance Co., Roland Spies
      United Parcel Service (UPS)[2], Richard McArdle
      Wal-Mart Stores, Maggie Sans
      And ALEC is writing legislation for over 2000 legislators. Consider joining Occupy! in your spare time if corporate/government corruption is a concern for you.

      November 17, 2011 at 2:13 am | Report abuse |
  5. bigwilliestyles

    See that post from Luke? Even the opposition's nutjobs are world-wide (or very poorly educated). Hey Luke: ??????

    November 17, 2011 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
  6. Travis

    They could try looking for jobs...just a suggestion.

    November 17, 2011 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
  7. infonomics

    Look at the young protester: cold, shivering, distraught, distressed, vexed, anxious, probably moving from location to location to elude predators and police. Surely she must pondering, why me, why such a cruel fate, never knowing that she is just a whim of nature that Hobbes' remarked as callous, brutish, nasty and short with no regard for questions of why. Her hopes leaned on the movement with its promise of meaningful change for the downtrodden but, for now, the movement has temporary stalled, leaving a bounty of doubts for her future. Don't give up young one, for few journeys go forward without a sidestep or two.

    November 17, 2011 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
  8. TriXen

    F***ing hippies.

    November 17, 2011 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
  9. Kathy

    I recently saw a doc-u-mentary on this song from 1991. Ben Folds was commissioned to write music and lyrics for a particular scene in an independent film that ended up on the cutting floor.

    He had formed it perfectly with exact timing, movement and swells. When the producers said they still wanted to use it in another part of the movie, he refused their offer because he felt it would cheapen the in...tent and meaning of his work.

    The most important facet of the story is that he shelved the song because he feels this is key to all his music; that his songs have a specific purpose and time, and this one wasn't ready for whatever it was born to be. Not yet.

    Months later, his elderly neighbor passed away and he knew the time had come for its unveiling, but not before the last verse was changed.

    Listen to find out why.


    November 17, 2011 at 1:23 am | Report abuse |
  10. Kathy

    Yes, the above has nothing to do with this blog, I just saw this and needed to share. Enjoy! 🙂

    November 17, 2011 at 1:26 am | Report abuse |
  11. Ryan

    What is the point of this "movement"? Has it made any difference aside from people leaving their jobs to complain about not getting paid enough? Has "big business" really listened? I'd fire every last person that worked for me if they did this when people are just looking for jobs. I'm sure I'd be able to find someone who would be willing to do anything as long as they got paid.

    November 17, 2011 at 1:45 am | Report abuse |
    • DoNotWorry

      Perhaps it has made a difference. Within a month of OWS, the banks finally agreed with the feds that they will settle on at least 4 MILLION ILLEGAL FORECLOSURES. They have, up to this point, been refusing to consider this. If you should have a letter from your lienholder, and don't receive it in December, look it up online and fill out a form.

      November 17, 2011 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
    • DoNotWorry

      You might notice that it was not a minor issue, foreclosing illegally on 4 million homes. There are many issues addressed by individuals in OWS, but they all pretty much add up to corporate/government corruption and the shift from a capitalistic democratic Republic to an oligarchy. When all power is in very few hands, suffering increases every year until the majority of land and money is in very few hands, and the majority of people are only a few days away from starvation. You may feel that businesses should fire anyone who wants to make enough to keep a roof over their head and food on the table... but very few people actually agree with that. The disagreement seems to be about whether Occupy! will be effective in creating a shift. Maybe so, maybe no. One win: over 20 banks have finally agreed to settle with over 4 million homeowners whose homes were illegally repossessed. Considering they have refused to do so for YEARS, and after a month of OWS, they capitulated... make your own determination. Is everything fixed? Not yet. Occupy!

      November 17, 2011 at 2:21 am | Report abuse |
  12. Kathy

    Washington Post Social experiment

    – In Washington , DC , at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.

    About 4 minutes later: The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk. At 6 minutes: A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again. At 10 minutes: A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent – without exception – forced their children to move on quickly. At 45 minutes: The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

    After 1 hour: He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.

    No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.

    This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities. This experiment raised several questions: *In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? *If so, do we stop to appreciate it? *Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

    One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made . . .
    How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?

    November 17, 2011 at 2:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      Joshua Bell- A wonderful life. He has been playing the violin since 5. Very talented.

      November 17, 2011 at 6:27 am | Report abuse |
  13. Rick

    I dont think OWS done anything , to think they changed the way they think in Washington. I doubt it...

    November 17, 2011 at 6:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      Every idea has a start. Every movement has a start. If you are a working American you should be outraged at the greed in Washington. We have a foundation. Are we going to build it up? I think this summer is going to be a grand Finale. If I had my choice of days I would choose July 4, 2012 Independence Day. That would be a cay for the people. Don't you think?

      November 17, 2011 at 6:39 am | Report abuse |
  14. Scottish Mama

    Pay attention America, the time will come for us to get our head out of the sand and make a difference. The time is now. If you want a free America for the people by the people. The time is now.
    Goooooooooooo OWS. Wake up people.

    November 17, 2011 at 6:31 am | Report abuse |
  15. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Joshua Bell is one of the greatest violinists I've ever heard. Nobody living plays better than he does.
    One day I was riding in a car with the radio on a classical station–rare for me. Somebody was playing a violin concerto, and I said "that has to be Heifetz. Nobody else plays that well." (Heifetz was long dead.)
    I listened a long time, convinced that it was Heifetz, until he did one little thing that Heifetz would not do.
    It was Joshua Bell in a live performance.
    The experiment in DC shows what USA citizens, as a whole, know about music.
    I don't think that Joshua Bell could pull that off in a European capital city, but it might be possible. I doubt that he could. I think that in Paris, London, Vienna, Berlin, or almost any European city, somebody would recognize Bell ON SIGHT, listen a second or two, laugh, and point. People would certainly stop and listen, confused.
    In Washington, DC, they would have known Jay-Z or Patti LaBelle–is that how they spell their names?
    "We have seen the enemy..."

    November 17, 2011 at 7:09 am | Report abuse |
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