Occupy Wall Street has captivated the country and even the world for nearly seven weeks. What began as small group protesting on Wall Street has grown into an international movement. However, what has the movement accomplished? It has encountered many problems, but if these problems are not addressed, the movement will certainly die out and lose all legitimacy.
What are They Protesting Again?
It is a bad sign when seven weeks into a movement the public is still unsure what the protesters want. The Occupy Wall Street movement is simply attacking too many issues at once. Occupiers have been protesting the all encompassing topic of social inequality. This includes broadly defined issues such as healthcare, corporate greed, student loans, debt repayment, and minimum wage just to name a few. However, they have not offered ways to remedy what they perceive to be social injustices.
Set political beliefs aside for one moment and consider the early Tea Party protests. Tea Partiers focused all of their energy on two issues. The first issue was lowering taxes. This movement, considered to be on the other side of the political spectrum, became a house hold name because of their association with that one issue. Some people even believe that their name is just an acronym for Taxed Enough Already.
The second issue was Obamacare. Tea Partiers would confront their respective local elected officials in order to express their views about the Obama plan for universal healthcare. The point here, is that this movement was highly focused on two main objectives. Whether individuals agreed with their beliefs, the public knew what the Tea Party wanted.
One can also make an argument that the Tea Party was generally successful in influencing the 2010 elections. There was no doubt that they were angered by the policies of President Obama. They garnered support and became organized, setting up something similar to franchises across the country. They had a chance to push leaders and Tea Party supporters into positions of power in an effort to change the system from within.
This segues to the next problem with the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Disorganization and Complete Lack of Leadership
The movement seems to pride itself on the complete lack of leadership it exhibits. However, it can only go so far without proper direction. Yes, Occupy Wall Street is rapidly expanding. New protests spring up in new cities every day, but what can actually be accomplished without someone taking the reins to form an organized hierarchy. It appears, however, this is not what the protesters want and therefore, it will be doomed to fail.
For example, remember the enormous funds they received? There was no leadership on how to distribute the money. Some groups in Zuccotti Park and protests in other cities even felt slighted. What could happen is groups breaking off from the larger movement, or quitting on it all together.
However, a leaderless, disorganized movement also presents other challenges.
Confrontations with Police
When police officers are confronted with a major movement or protest, some departments and city officials will try to keep an open channel with the leaders. This is done so they can schedule protests and properly block of streets. However, in this leaderless movement, the city and police have no one to reach out and discuss the issues with.
While a 'leader' might be nice, that is not a reality. They are disorganized and have no common goal. Each protestor thinks they are an entity on their own, said Joseph C., a retired high ranking member of the NYPD, who wishes to keep his last name private.
Without someone to look to, people may begin to act on impulse, making threatening gestures to law enforcement officials. When a police officer feels threatened, well, the perpetrator better be prepared to be arrested with force.
Keep in mind that no police officer is being paid to be injured or killed in the line of duty. Does it happen? Yes, of course it does, but nowhere in our job description does it say, get hurt, said Joseph. He has been closely monitoring the Occupy Wall Street movement and is concerned for the safety of his fellow police officers. Trust me, when you see a cop use pepper-spray or more to take someone into custody, something happened to force that cop to make that move. We don't do things just for the hell of it.
If a major riot breaks out in downtown Manhattan and a police officer is killed, the movement will lose all of its credibility. The people will have had enough and the movement will be finished within the United States. Occupy Wall Street protesters will surely claim that the legitimate wing of their movement had nothing to do with any injuries, which, again, allows us to segue into another topic.
Zuccotti Park is Not Just Occupiers Anymore
Zuccotti Park is certainly not the same as it was seven weeks ago. The park is generally divided between legitimate protesters and freeloaders, the homeless, and of course, the run-of-the-mill drug addicts.
It's gotten really bad in the last couple weeks, the population of criminals and predators. Fully half the camp down there now don't have anything to do with the movement. They don't go on marches. They're just down there to eat and cause trouble, says Fetzer Mills, Jr. Mills has been working at Zuccotti Park as security, according to the New York Daily News. We are overwhelmed.
There is now no way to tell who is an active protester and who is your run-of-the-mill crack addict. Occupy Wall Street would probably be best if they distance themselves from these people. Having your name associated with lawless individuals cannot help the movement.
The number of non-participants taking advantage of the resources that the activists have provided -- free food, clothing, tarps and sleeping bags, hand-rolled smokes and even books, not to mention a sense of protection from the police, who have increasingly left the park to protect itself -- has exploded over the past week, and is threatening to define the occupation itself and overshadow its political and social ambitions, said Mills.
And therein lies the hypocrisy.
The Hypocrisy of the Movement
The Occupiers don't want people, even the destitute and homeless, taking their hard-earned donations and food. How can they advocate for a cost of living allowance, but act with disdain at thought of giving the homeless food. This is completely hypocritical and only hinders their cause.
The protesters should leave Zuccotti Park and the other encampments across the country. They are attracting too much negative attention from continuous riots and scuffles with police.
If they really want to make an impact, they should leave the park, remove the troublemakers, regroup, and get organized.