I’m all for real causes and real concerns. Especially causes that have captured the nation’s attention and sympathies, like Occupy Wall Street. This week is the first anniversary of OWS. At its height, the OWS movement mobilized thousands of young people who took to Wall Street in protest of the country’s economic woes. Headquartered in Zuccotti Park in downtown Manhattan, protesters filmed YouTube videos, had live streams, mobilized rallies and walks, all with the aim of showing Wall Street their displeasure at big banking and corporate practices that alienated and impoverished scores of people throughout the nation.
Fittingly, the Wall Street Journal has been reporting arrests have been made. However, in a probably less read blog post the coverage seems to be less neutral. The blog seems to suggest while some are arrested for taunting cops and for public disturbance, others are there for the party-like atmosphere of something cool to do, throwing confetti and having cake to commemorate the event. Interestingly, the words of the protestors are compared against Wall Street workers of about the same age. The protestor comments seem to be more about the importance of the OWS as having a generalized impact rather than having any particular agenda. On the other hand, the young workers seem to be annoyed and frustrated at the disturbance the OWS movement has caused. Bloomberg’s headline on the anniversary calls the OWS presence as a ‘Carnival’ of protestors. Although the language of the article is fairly neutral, it speaks volumes when any legit publication calls the movement a carnival or a party. It calls into question how serious some of these protestors are. Are they really interested in bringing change or just interested in something cool to do?
So what is one to make of this? One year ago, I was working downtown and my commute was made very, very difficult. Police cordoned off walkways from the subways for people getting to and from work. I remember getting screamed at by protestors and well-dressed Deutsche Bank suited bankers taking pictures of the protestors from the other side. I stopped by Zuccotti Park and met a friend near Brooks Brothers and watched while people beat drums. My friend and I noted it was more like a Phish concert than anything else. The New York Observer (Don’t quote me on it, but I’m pretty sure it was them.) coverage on the hipster cop was profoundly funny yet disturbing at the same time. Was the Observer mocking the hipster cop, his fans, or everyone there? Sometimes the Observer’s sarcasm flew pretty wide and I wasn’t quite sure which target the snark was aimed at.
In any case, everyone has their own ideas of what the OWS movement was all about. For me, it was a heartfelt and earnest event. Who knows what the social impact of this will be for the future? There was a moment where it had the total attention of a nation but maybe it lost its impact because of a lack of a clear message guiding it. Every movement should have a voice that says something. What did you hear?