What's next for the Occupy movement?

It was a scene everyone knew would come: New York City police entering Zuccotti Park to clear out Occupy Wall Street protestors. This is a movement with no method beyond making itself heard: It made that point long ago, bringing income disparity out into the economic open. But to grow beyond that it had to move forward or get moved out.

Without a new set of specific goals after making its voice heard in the initial media splash, Occupy became simply an open-ended occupation: We are all camping out here until ... until ... well, until we don't want to camp out here anymore. That is not a political statement to which anyone in power can respond -- and often-sympathetic big-city mayors find themselves in a bind very similar to the one that handcuffed New York's Michael Bloomberg.

An NPR report this morning delivers a bleak look at the yet-unevacuated Occupy protest in a park in front of City Hall in downtown Los Angeles. Here, the movement has already become stratified: one part of the occupied park now calls itself "Skid Row" after the down-and-out streets filled with homeless a few blocks away. Another section is dubbed "Westwood," the name of a tony L.A. neighborhood surrounding the UCLA campus. Demonstrators there say they are driven by politics and passion, unlike the chronic homeless who have also flocked to the Occupy site.

Help fund independent Catholic journalism.
Donate now.

One woman interviewed by NPR comes down to the site each evening from her job at an art gallery -- but she finds herself confused these days. Nothing, she says, is getting done -- she wonders if they all wouldn't be more effective working from their homes at night, using the phones, email and social media to spread information and agitation. To her, Occupy has settled into an encampment without a real cause -- it has not moved forward, it has not created anything out of the initial burst of energy that sparked the movement.

I'm guessing it is the same for people in general: Many citizens who were initially gripped by Occupy Wall Street now turn the page in their newspapers each morning, skip past the headline online. We all know the story now; there is nothing to add. Protests are a start of something, not the endgame. Occupy has achieved something solid: It brought inequality into the conversation. But now that we are all talking, what do we actually DO about it?

Support independent reporting on important issues.

 One family graphic_2016_250x103.jpg

Show comments

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at Disqus.com/verify.
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

Commenting is available during business hours, Central time, USA. Commenting is not available in the evenings, over weekends and on holidays. More details are available here. Comments are open on NCR's Facebook page.