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Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change

Has Occupy Wall Street Had Its Day?

Demonstrators with 'Occupy Wall Street' continue their protest at Zuccotti Park in New York on November 4, 2011.
Photo: Timothy A Clary | AFP | Getty Images

Occupy Wall Street is occupying increasingly less public attention amid some credibility-damaging incidents and a general frustration even among its supporters with the group’s lack of a cogent message.

The headlines lately haven’t been pretty: Occupiers got into violent clashes with Oakland police when the group blocked the city's bustling port, arrests have escalated at other Occupy locations, and several sexual assaults have surfaced at the main base at Zuccotti Park though protesters refuse to turn in the offenders to police.

The New York Post blared “Zoo-Cotti!” in a front-page headline, behind which there were graphic, blow-by-blow photos of a street fight at the park Thursday.

An owner of the Milk Street Café, near the protest site, told reporters in separate news accounts that she’s had to lay off wait staff because police barricades resulting from the protest have crippled her business.

And the movement has done nothing to change the positions of recalcitrant 1 percenters – the top income earners who drive the OWS wrath – who say the occupation should have been extinguished by now.

“These kids downtown, I define them as babies in adults’ bodies,” venture capitalist and Home Depot founder Ken Langone said Friday on CNBC. “I don’t think they know what they want to be when they grow up.”

Similarly, billionaire investor Sam Zell appeared on CNBC the previous day and said if he was the owner of Zuccotti Park – which is private property, no matter what the protesters think – that he would have had them evicted by now.

That puts pressure on New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, himself a left-leaning 1 percenter who ultimately is going to have to make a decision about how long he’s willing to let OWS go on.

The site has become a health concern due to unsanitary conditions, as well as a crime problem. OWS medical volunteer Eric Carter told the Post that the Thursday fight was not “the first time, it won’t be the last time,” mentioning that one of the participants was a bipolar homeless man who had been squatting among the protesters.

Indeed, conflicts have abounded between the protest regulars and the city’s street people.

The Gothamist recently ran a piece, rife with irony, on how the OWS regulars revolted against the homeless folks who have come to mooch the food donated to the occupiers.

And a recent polls show that the OWS movement, which claims to represent the other 99 percent, actually has support from less than a third of the public. A Quinnipiac University poll showed 39 percent view the protest unfavorably while just 30 percent support it.

A recent study from the Project for Excellence in Journalism showed OWS received more coverage than the tea party when the more conservative-leaning group kicked off, but the coverage is waning.

Moreover, the sprawling Occupy protests, to New York and abound, have generated little high-profile support.

Actress Susan Sarandon, a consistent supporter of far-left causes, visited the site early in the movement, but has been far less visible since. Hollywood, in fact, has been largely absent, though there are rumors that documentary filmmaker Michael Moore is planning a project involving OWS.

Even noted ’60s folkie Joan Baez has urged the group to get a message.

“I’m not sure I go along with it leaderless,” Baez told the Times-Picayune in New Orleans. “I’ll be convinced when it develops a real direction, that people can look at and get that that’s what’s happening. So far it’s hard to tell.”

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