No “Streamlined Vision” for Occupy Wall Street

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March 19, 2012; Source: Wall Street Journal

The press faces lots of challenges in trying to report on the trajectory of a social or political movement as protean as Occupy Wall Street (OWS). Over this past weekend, Occupiers tried to enter Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan. The intent of some, it appeared, was to rebuild their semi-permanent protest facility.

The Wall Street Journal story on the event was titled “New ‘Occupy’ Tension,” and the Journal reported that 74 Occupiers had been arrested for disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and trespassing at Zuccotti Park exactly six months after Occupiers had first set up tents there. The WSJ also gave some play to a tweet from someone that the Journal said appeared to be a protester threatening to kill police officers.  

CNN’s coverage mentioned the 74 arrests, citing filmmaker Michael Moore’s statement contrasting the vigor of the police action in Zuccotti Park with what he saw as a less energetic response to rowdy St. Patrick’s Day revelers: “Welcome to New York City!” he posted on his website. “Feel free to get drunk and barf on the streets as much as you want, just don’t take on the banksters or we’ll beat the ever-loving crap out of you.”

Fox News, on the other hand, assumed that the unknown tweeter represented the entire movement, which Fox reports is somehow aligned with the current occupant of the White House. Reprinting an article from the UK’s Daily Mail, Fox added its own hyperbolic headline: “Obama-Endorsed Occupy Wall Street Threatens: ‘Kill a Cop or Two.’”

An Associated Press story, republished by the Huffington Post, used the Saturday protest and arrests to suggest in its headline that “NYC Activists [Were] Reflect[ing] on Occupy’s Direction.” The comments picked up by the AP reporter suggested some of the challenges that the Occupy movement was going to have to confront soon:

  • From a young grad student at Hofstra: “I’m really grateful to be part of a generation that wants change, ‘cause we should all want change,’ she wrote.  “But I’m not sure what that change is, or if they know what that change is.”
  • From a Harlem resident: “This is not a beauty pageant. We cannot homogenize this movement into one streamlined vision.”
  • From a nonprofit employee involved in the Occupy protest: “There was a lot of silliness and just kind of singing and dancing and really very jovial. We had some banners up. There was one tarp that was up but it was tiny. It could fit like five people under it.”
  • From another Occupy activist: “It’s going to get interesting during the election cycle. We’re going to be more of a presence in the political world. I know we have a couple of people running for office.”
  • From a member of Occupy’s direct action working group: “College students will have ‘a huge role to play this summer organizing around student debt.’”
  • From yet another Occupy protester: Looking to the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, he advocates “challeng(ing) the U.N. on what their vision of a green economy is.” 

The AP/Huffington Post discussion appears more open and perhaps sympathetic to the Zuccotti Park Occupiers than the others, particularly the hyperbolic Fox News, but in its openness to what the Occupiers have to say, it reveals the multiple concerns that are competing for attention and prioritization in the future OWS movement.—Rick Cohen

  • Spo101

    “…if you’re ignorant, you’re scared of ideas…” unidentified young woman at Occupy Wall St, Zuccotti Park, NY, NY. interviewed by Geraldo Rivera at large

    The NYC Police Department is a disgrace. Here’s and organization who did NOTHING while Wall St con artists (in NYPD jurisdiction) almost destroyed the US economy. These Big Apple fascists to this day are roughing up Occupy protestors who are doing nothing beyond demanding accountability from the Wall St mafia. Now that House of Representatives Republicans are pushing the JOBS Act (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) with has NOTHING to do with jobs and everything to do with the same deregulation that caused the economic meltdown in the first place.

    I’m going to make sure the Republican Corporate Ho Party goes down in history as liars/cheats with police protection. NYPD and police departments around the nation stomped on the the Constitution for a bunch of vain, greed stricken power mad silver spoon trust fund baby economic terrorists. From the likes of Charles Keating to the likes of Enron to the likes of a Corporate Crime Wave of EPIC proportions.

    NYPD can send out it’s domestic spies for so-called Homeland Security to squash the news it protected the criminals who perpetrated the biggest looting of a nations wealth and resources in the history of mankind!

    Occupy Wall Street/USA is the NEWS! Listen to what they are saying and then compare it to the gd m’f***ing JOBS Act and the colossal CON the GOP is trying to push on the American PEOPLE! I feel threatened by the GOP, Rush Limbaugh and FOX News, so I’m moving to Florida where I can shoot them… (lol)

    Remember “OF, BY FOR the PEOPLE”? If the American people fail to DEMAND ethics, responsibility, accountability and AN END TO POLICE ABUSE OF POWER and EXCESSIVE FORCE… then freedom will become a delicate concept. I am somebody who fights against totalitarian tyranny “protect & serve my skinny Italian-American @$$”

  • Brandt Hardin

    The Occupy Movement is NECESSARY for our citizens to expose the corruption which Big Business has infected our Government with. Every single person occupying the streets and protesting Corporations is a hero and a patriot. I was compelled to lend a hand and create some new posters for the movement which you can download for free on my artist’s blog at