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. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Good grief, another mindless Tea Partier posting here under the name of "Humble Horace". He should be posting under the name of "Horace the Moron" instead since like most Tea Partiers, he can't seem to think his way out of a wet paper bag!!!

    November 17, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  2. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Please folks, just ignore the above from this Tea Partying moron. He probably never got past the 5th grade in school!!!

    November 17, 2011 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  3. ArtistCHD

    OCCUPYNEERS of “Occupy Wall Street NYC” are now reentering Zuccotti Park. On today, Thursday, November 17, 2011...10: 24 am. Police patrols, could not contain and control the large crowds of protest marchers in the streets. So they wisely and smartly opened the barriers and the people can flooding inside that areas. Carrying supposed to be restricted items like heavy backpacks, equipment, sleeping bags, etc. They are celebrating this substantive victory. And an argument is occurring between a few people who want to go marching to take over Wall Street. As others proclaiming that they “will not follow anger”; “I will only go in peace” and love and harmony. Which means to me that very passionate, even madden and angry individuals are trying to take some unkind revenge upon the city cops, who destroyed their personal belongings, the other day, on Tuesday morning the 15th November 2011.

    November 17, 2011 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • unfair

      I think these people would like to work, if there were any descent paying jobs out there. Our government helps everybody except their own people and I find that very sad. We have starving children right here in the US. Homeless people in this so called Rich country is shameful. Not all of them are lazy. Congress can't organize a trip to the toilet with out fighting like spoiled brats.

      November 20, 2011 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • OWSsupporter

      @Unfair: AMEN ! finally somone with understanding.

      November 22, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. OWS Free Speech

    OWS needs their own internet/web page. To distribute messages, times, and strategy.

    November 17, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  5. OWS Free Speech

    I guess your doing your Koch bros and Co at their finest.

    November 17, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  6. Cousin It

    After you?

    November 17, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  7. Cousin It

    What did you apply yourself with?

    November 17, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  8. gung hoe

    If you want to gripe and make fun of the tea partiers please dont be there to collect what thex gain!

    November 17, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  9. gung hoe

    No problem with you staying at the park just please pickup your turds used condems etc

    November 17, 2011 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  10. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    The article contains this phrase:
    "...a call to action against unequal distribution of wealth."
    If that is really the complaint, it is absurdly unrealistic.
    Read the phrase again.
    Wealth is never distributed equally.
    If the Czar doesn't have most of it, Lenin has it.
    People are not equal in their abilities to acquire wealth.
    In the USA, every citizen has an equal opportunity to try to acquire wealth.
    They're being arrested now.
    The jail is warm.
    Three hots and a cot.

    November 17, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. gung hoe

    He goes another Tea Partying idiot vomiting his ignorance here. The NYPD should really be ashamed of themselves taking up for the right-wing thugs at the New York City Hall and this nitwit above wants them to shoot people down in cold blood!!! How nauseating can one get???

    November 17, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. John Browne

    Well, well, well... 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.)
    The pitch has gotta be "a SLOGAN", a "sound-bite", by a "creditable leader-type"... right. This is all about charisma and pitching a BRAND...
    It's apparently so easy to miss the point, when the cultural blinders are on... and that's what the banksters & their politicians are counting on. ^..^

    November 17, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Barnaby Jones

    Sorry people, some damn Tea Partier stole my name here and started posting his right-wing bla-bla-bla under it. None of those posts are mine. Of course I don't condone police brutality and never have! For the record, I too support the OWS Movement!

    November 17, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Gary Johndro

    That's telling 'em, Barnaby. Like you say, the police need to act just like our military abroad and just start shooting people on the spot! YABBA-DABBA-DOO!!!

    November 17, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mike

    WOW! You are either blind or just very angry little person!

    November 18, 2011 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8