What happens when OWS can't occupy Zuccotti Park?
Without land to 'occupy,' as even friendly mayors in cities like Oakland and New York move to close encampments such as the one at Zuccotti Park, what remains of the OWS movement?
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“No right is absolute and with every right comes responsibilities," Bloomberg said in a statement. "The First Amendment gives every New Yorker the right to speak out – but it does not give anyone the right to sleep in a park or otherwise take it over to the exclusion of others – nor does it permit anyone in our society to live outside the law.”Skip to next paragraph
Part of the changing dynamic of the camps has been that a growing number of homeless people have become part of the protests, and have brought problems with them into the camps. In fact, a new study by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty found that there's been a 7 percent increase in laws against sleeping in public places since 2009, bolstering Occupy's arguments that the rich are fighting a war of attrition against the poor.
To be sure, the movement has widespread support, and some commentators say the movement is "winning" because it has focused debate on income inequality. And despite the emergence of social problems at some of the camps and the growing crackdowns by even sympathetic mayors, the "occupy" strategy is likely to remain a key part of the Occupy movement, some sociologists say.
"I don't think the camps are absolutely vital to the life of movement, but I do think they're quite important," says Heather Gautney, a sociology professor and expert on social movements at Fordham University, in New York. "This is a movement that's decided not to be an arm of a political party, so the community building that goes on in these camps is crucial and part of what they're trying to create, which is a political community."
At the same time, there's a growing sense both inside and outside the movement that new tactics or "resets" of the camps – which could necessitate the emergence of leaders or protesters focusing more sharply on issues like tuition cost increases, a cause being pushed among occupiers in California – may be necessary.
"There's a growing sense among the occupiers that they need a new strategy, so in some ways breaking up the encampments, which had become kind of static, may force the emergence of new strategies," says T.V. Reed, an American studies professor at Washington State University, in Pullman. "Unlike other past [protest] occupations ... it's not so crucial in this case to have a particular site occupied, and it's certainly not the only tactic for it to be successful."
One emerging story line is embattled protesters retreating to establish camps on college campuses, where there may be more sympathy to their cause, but which could also marginalize the movement as a student protest only. With protesters increasingly rousted and searching for new digs, those who have cheered protesters on are waiting for the Occupy Wall Street movement to evolve to its next stage.
"Now that it's been kicked out of the house, it's time for the 99% movement to grow up," Sally Kohn, a politial strategist, writes for CNN.com.
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