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Occupy Wall Street stages a comeback: What did it accomplish? (+video)

On the one-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, the movement took to the streets of New York to remind Americans that 'we have not given up.' But a revival might have to wait.

By Ron SchererStaff writer / September 17, 2012

Protesters and police face off during an Occupy Wall Street march Monday in New York.

Jason DeCrow/AP


New York

On its one year anniversary, Occupy Wall Street spent a day marching around the Wall Street area, railing against the banks, and sometimes (through their civil disobedience) getting members arrested. There was plenty of street theater and no shortage of homemade signs, particularly about income inequality.

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The overriding message: We are still here.

The execution was not always successful – an early-morning attempt to blockade Wall Street traders from getting to their jobs was foiled by New York Police Department. But Occupy's typical pastiche of protests – from ecology to education – were back in force.

“Today is more symbolic,” says John Zangas, an organizer from Washington, D.C., who was part of a group of 50 to 75 people who had come up to New York. “We are saying we have not given up.”

The effort was definitely needed, say observers of the Occupy movement. After New York City evicted the groups from its campground in Zuccotti Park last November, Occupy seemed to disappear. Despite an effort on May 1 to reinvigorate the group, not much happened through the summer.

“They lost some momentum,” says Heather Gautney, a sociologist at Fordham University and author of a book on the movement. “They are in a rebuilding stage.”

If they are rebuilding, they are doing it in their own unique way.

Some protesters donned outfits that looked they might belong in a Mardi Gras parade. Assemblies of individuals repeated short phrases from leaders in a kind of human megaphone. A “People’s Assembly” in Foley Park was planned.

On Monday, the organizers had divided lower Manhattan into different zones. In one area, protesters were concerned with debt, in another, ecology, in yet another, education, and around the Wall Street area was something termed 99 percent – referring to the concentration of wealth and influence into the top 1 percent.

“There has always been a resistance to one unifying theme that everyone agreed on,” says Alexis Goldstein, who works on a group called Foreclose the Banks. “There are so many issues people want to work on.”


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