Occupy Wall Street took center stage last fall, galvanizing thousands of people across the country to protest against the abuses of what they called the “one percent.”
But one year after the movement began, it has been reduced to a shadow of its former self: Occupy’s makeshift camps have been shuttered, its membership has dwindled amid internal squabbling and what critics called a lack of direction and goals, and its hopes for social change so far have been unrealized.
Amid this backdrop, Occupy protesters have organized a sit-down protest around the New York Stock Exchange in Wall Street on Monday, their one-year anniversary, hoping to regain some momentum.
“Why are we going back to Wall Street? Because the one percent wants it all and they’re not giving anything up without a struggle. Economic conditions are roughly as bad as they were a year ago and for many, many people they’re precarious,” said Bill Dobbs, of the Occupy Wall Street public relations team.
“These big arguments took up a lot of time and energy for months over whether the tactics should remain strictly nonviolent,” said Todd Gitlin, a professor of journalism at Columbia University who wrote a book on Occupy. “ … the turning inward of energy was not constructive.”
New York couple Betty and Dennis Carbone, former anti-war and anti-nuclear activists, still come once or twice a week to Zuccotti Park to maintain a presence at the birthplace of the movement. They are disappointed others haven’t done the same.
“We were down here for the winter,” said Dennis Carbone, 69, as some protesters chanted, blew whistles and held up the familiar yellow-and-black banner reading, “Occupy Wall Street.” The barricade-lined park protesters once called home had security officers at entry points on Friday many months after the encampment came down.
Disillusion over the perception that things weren’t getting done led some protesters to create spinoff groups, such as OccuEvolve, which is focused on bringing more people into the movement and collaborating with the seven Occupy branches in New York city.