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. Bob the Bum

    Welcome to America Hippies!!!! You don't like the amount you are being paid?! Then go to school, get an education and work hard to get a job that you enjoy and get paid for. The American Dream is not handed to you on a silver platter, you have to earn it!

    If you want equal distribution of wealth, then go to a socialist country were all people are treated and paid equally and see how you like it. Just don't come crying back to us when you realize the truth of what that life is like!

    November 17, 2011 at 7:12 am | Report abuse |
  2. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Regarding Joshua Bell's expensive violin: if he'd been playing a cheap student instrument, the music still would have been phenomenal.
    I used to play with a violinist who had a copy of his famous Strad. He would play it and not tell anybody.

    November 17, 2011 at 7:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      A distant memory and very different from when he stretched rubber bands across his dresser as a child. smile.

      November 17, 2011 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
  3. Ablecynic

    The core of this article is a series of quotes from some very left-leaning academics and consultants, all of whom "want" the OWS movement to survive, so they give reasons why having the OWS squatters kicked out of Zuccotti Park is 'good thing' for the movement. I notice the journalist didn't talk to anyone with other views - it would have been nice if they had talked with one of the many think tanks who work on counter-insurgency issues for the DoD and see what they think. Most of them would say that once you break the occupation of a site, the followers scatter. Without a leader, the only focus was actually the park itself, and now it is gone. As long as the movement can physically occupy something, it will be around, but if not, it won't and they will be just another in the long line of whining liberal protests that have gone on for decades.

    November 17, 2011 at 7:26 am | Report abuse |
  4. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Bob the Bum at 7:12 AM is absolutely correct.
    Read what he wrote, think, and act on it.

    November 17, 2011 at 7:27 am | Report abuse |
  5. old man winter

    Freeze OWS

    November 17, 2011 at 7:33 am | Report abuse |
  6. Fester

    Hey dr ruffnut how about this, lets not send them to colorado because you know damm well they dobt want them there either, so do your research ,and in the mean time shut up!!!!! At least they are speaking out. And what are you doing ? Running!!!! What are you scared of? You are reminding me of my mother, a bitter ,coward

    November 17, 2011 at 7:34 am | 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 17, 2011 at 7:57 am | Report abuse |
  8. Roadsniper

    Send them home ?they are home dumb crap, they are employed, as activists now whats wrong with that? What that i cant hear you, these people are fighting for there futures just like a lot of you bickering old crocks! So quit your complaining and remember when you were young before you stunk of death you were demonstrating to! So take your rotting old corpse somewhere else and find an opening in there staunch ass bleeding heart, the days of stand by your guns politics are ooooovvvvvveeeeerrrrrr ok!!!

    November 17, 2011 at 8:01 am | Report abuse |
  9. Roadsniper

    Hey abelcynic, why should they talk to a think tank, thats part of the problem to a money hord, since they cant think for there silfe than we will do it for them .just give me some more tax dollar money, a thik tank is in bed with the rest of you greedy pigs so why would you suggest that? Oh you sleep with them!!!these people got this thing started so let it flow like it is . Unless your a controling piece of crap

    November 17, 2011 at 8:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob the Bum

      If Roadsniper is the product of today's educational system, I weep for the future.

      Grammar: the lost art.

      November 17, 2011 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  10. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    If you want your comments to be taken seriously by educated Americans, learn the differences between "their" and "there," and "too" and "to."

    November 17, 2011 at 8:16 am | Report abuse |
  11. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Thinking is part of the problem?

    November 17, 2011 at 8:19 am | Report abuse |
  12. Scottish Mama

    I was thinking it will be cold soon, maybe if you support OWS, you could drop off some sandwiches, a gift card for a meal at a local diner, or a turkey next week. If you cannot get there during the week maybe on the weekend? Maybe one evening a week. Solidarity. Safety in numbers.
    I do not understand why people are having a problem with Free Speech.
    I also find it funny that we tell our children if you have a problem with the something in your life, do something about it. Well the children are speaking, can you hear them?
    From the mouth of babes. Kids say the darndest things. Truth hitting a nerve?

    November 17, 2011 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
  13. Angel

    No they are trying to rid themselves of corporate greed(maggot shyte). They do not want to eat their Shyte anymore. They are refusing it. Get it?

    November 17, 2011 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
  14. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    More idiotic comments from all these mindless Tea Partiers here. It never ends. How old and corny this gets!!!

    November 17, 2011 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
  15. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Any comment with three exclamation points–or even two–was not written by me.
    I seldom use one.

    November 17, 2011 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
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