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How Occupy Wall Street plans to spring back to action

Occupy Wall Street isn't dead, leaders of the movement say. It's ready to emerge from a winter of hibernation with a spring of renewed activism.

By Staff writer / March 30, 2012

An Occupy Wall Street protester stands on the steps of Federal Hall in the financial district in New York Friday. According to organizers, the focus of the day was 'spring training,' and included teaching people how to lead a march, handle law enforcement, and resist arrest.

Andrew Burton/REUTERS

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Los Angeles

After a relatively low-profile winter, the movement that branded pup-tent activism into the national consciousness is embracing the advent of spring.

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In Washington Friday the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement is launching its second act, kicking off a month-long series of marches, training sessions, and general assemblies with Occupyers from all over the nation.

Dubbed National Occupy Washington (NOW), the event began with a march on the Environmental Protection Agency – accompanied by a brace of alpacas, a large polar bear, and a even larger blow-up of planet Earth.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Kevin Zeese, one of the coorganizers, says by cell phone while marching under the overcast capital skies.

“We are preparing to give people the skills and training they need for longer and more powerful involvement,” he says, adding, “the tents were just a tactic, not the purpose of this movement.”

While many have seen the disappearance of the signature tents from downtown parks from New York to Oakland and Boston to Los Angeles as a sign that OWS had lost both its appeal and vigor, Mr. Zeese counters that long-term social campaigns such as the civil rights movement unfolded over years and took many forms as they progressed.

“We may be less visible, but we are just getting started,” Zeese says.

Spring is inspiring other OWS-related activism as well, including the 99 Percent Spring, a coalition of progressive groups launching large-scale nonviolence training for its members and a national call for a general strike on May 1.

OWS is in transition, says Mark Tatge, journalism professor at DePauw University in Indiana. “I don't see it dying, I see it morphing into something beyond just an attack on the big banks or Wall Street,” he says via e-mail, adding that the seeds of this movement can be seen elsewhere.

“There is really more than one ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement underway,” says Professor Tatge, pointing to coalitions of groups mobilizing over issues such as immigration, fights over creationism in schools, a fierce battle over health care now before the Supreme Court, and the recent shooting of an unarmed teen in Florida.

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