Social movements have immense impacts on our nation’s evolving history, politics and culture. We can all agree some movements, such as the Civil Rights Movement and the Feminist Movement, prevalent through the 1960s and 1970s, opened our country to the civil justice and equalities upon which this country was founded. Our fundamental freedom of speech is the greatest tool a movement can utilize because it enables protests to get public and political attention to the issues and its goals.
As you may know, the most recent movement that has emerged from the troubling economic downfall is Occupy Wall Street. Protestors, initiated by Canadian activist group Adbusters, are believed to be battling corporate greed, corruption and influence over the government. The Occupy Wall Street movement has been gaining national and international attention. So much attention that even cartoon comedy show, South Park, has made a spoof over it. However, in the episode that aired on Nov. 2, the foul-mouthed fourth graders weren’t interested in financial change and unequal wealth distribution but rather mocking the organization’s lack of goals and proposed solutions by occupying Red Robin and the bathroom.
Many journalists have agreed the movement hasn’t adopted a unified, coherent message or identified leadership, which has made it difficult for people to support the protest or view it favorably. To make matters worse, the violence and civil disobedience that sprung up throughout Occupy camps have clearly become a growing concern. Polling firm Penn, Schoen & Berland conducted nearly 200 interviews with protestors on Oct. 10 and 11, in which 98% admitted to supporting civil disobedience to achieve their goals and 31% would support violence to advance their agenda.
A movement that began peacefully is quickly becoming more aggressive. According to a Nov. 9 article on Fox News, author Perry Chiaramonte cited nearly half a dozen assaults have been reported from Occupy camps across the nation. One of the most serious incidents occurred in Portland when police responded to calls of Molotov cocktails set off by protestors by the city’s World Trade Center. In San Diego, street vendors were forced to completely shut down their carts at a camp when an angry mob vandalized their carts with not only graffiti but going as far as splattering blood and urine as well. With the recent deaths (a demonstrator in Salt Lake City, UT died from carbon monoxide poisoning and drug use, a demonstrator committed suicide in Burlington, VT, and a demonstrator was shot in Oakland, CA), officials in three cities and many more are pressing to close camps and hand out eviction notices before things get more out of hand.
With such and more reports of violence and social disturbance and a lack of organization and solutions to the issues at hand, it is no surprise the Occupy Wall Street movement is losing favor with public opinion. Much like in a business, having strong leadership, organization and specific goals are vital to accomplishing success, including success in a social movement. Will the Occupy Wall Street movement survive and make strides in their protest? Or will it be lost and forgotten in the sea of social issues? We’re predicting lost and forgotten.
You may have seen many 99 percent photos floating around the Internet. Below is one I saw posted on Facebook. It reads: “I have a steady job with a regular paycheck, great benefits and lots of room for promotion. Next year, I will be paid to go to college and graduate with a guaranteed position making a decent salary. I am the 1% of the 99% that decided hard work and sacrifice were more prudent than complaining about how life is too hard and I’m not getting any free handouts.”