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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.

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Indeed, a Harrisburg, Pa., man who identified himself only as Lazlo said his main concern was fracking for oil and natural gas. He was referring to the drilling method that fractures geologic formations and is controversial because of pollution concerns.

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Holding a cardboard sign about the wealth gap, Bob Nash of Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., says the issue is that so few have so much. He fumes that the rich have “hijacked the country.”

The Rev. Michael Ellick, part of the Occupy Faith group, says his main concern is debt. “There is mortgage debt, medical debt, for a lot of us it’s student-loan debt, it is just crushingly disproportionate to what many of us make anymore.”

He says his group’s efforts are to get out stories about this debt for the next six to 12 months. “The idea is to frame these things into a broader context,” says Mr. Ellock of the Judson Memorial Church in New York. “Then, a lot of us are looking back at our ancient scriptures right now; we’re looking at Deuteronomy 15, where Moses says every seven years there should be total debt forgiveness for the poor.”

Yet experts on social movements say Occupy Wall Street needs to develop achievable goals and build alliances.

“Colorful protests are no substitute for door-to-door organizing,” says Stephen Zunes, a political scientist at the University of San Francisco.

Professor Zunes thinks Occupy will have to wait until after the election to get fully in gear. “Their natural ally, the trade unions, are distracted,” he says. “As disappointed as they are with Obama’s centrist economic policies, they are still trying to get him reelected.”

However, Ms. Gautney thinks Occupy has already had some influence on the election campaign. “Obama is saying the wealthy should pay their share,” she says. “Occupy has pushed for some time for a millionaire’s tax.”

One of the spokesmen for Occupy says that the group is maturing. “We are developing more specific goals,” says Jonathan Smucker, who works in the Occupy press area. “We are digging in.”

One example is Ms. Goldstein’s Foreclose the Banks group. She says its main goal is to draw attention to the fact that no major banker has been indicted for the financial meltdown that began in 2007.

Recently, when President Obama was in New York for a fundraiser, Foreclose the Banks held a fundraiser of its own to get money for the financial task force that was supposed to investigate the meltdown. The task force was “supposed to get $5 million, but that got cut down,” says Goldstein, explaining the need for the fundraiser. “There have been leaks to the press from the group saying they don’t have the resources to pursue the investigation.”


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