Is the 'Occupy Wall Street' movement being hijacked by newcomers?
More people and organizations are joining Occupy Wall Street or expressing solidarity every day. Whether it's an infusion of vital energy or a force that tears at cohesion is up to the movement.
An estimated 200 social justice protesters demonstrated in Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., Thursday, expressing solidarity with the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that has spread to more than 150 US cites.Skip to next paragraph
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The protesters, part of a larger group that had gathered earlier near Capitol Hill for a long-planned antiwar rally, beat drums, carried signs that said “Tax the Rich,” and rang cowbells.
The smaller group’s modest, if opportunistic, appearance in Freedom Plaza showcased a larger phenomenon challenging the Occupy Wall Street movement, which began Sept. 17 in New York.
As expressions of solidarity with Occupy multiply – labor unions marched in New York Wednesday while student and labor groups joined in Boston – the question is being asked: Can the protest movement carry the newcomers, or will it sink under their weight?
Political scientists, sociologists and historians – as well as public relations specialists – are coming forward to offer their views and comments about the pluses and minuses of merging interests with other groups, some traditional, others not.
Partly because the movement has coalesced so quickly and captured growing media coverage, it faces both uncommon promise and peril as it tries to turn the corner and sustain itself for the longer term. The next two weeks are crucial in deciding its identity and structure, say a host of experts who study grass-roots political movements.
“The entropy that is Occupy Wall Street threatens to either destroy the group or propel it to new heights,” says Michael Robinson, senior vice president for Levick Strategic Communications, an international public relations firm. “They need to be really careful about becoming too schizophrenic and having too many personalities. They risk getting diffused if they expand themselves too much.”