So the protester is the person of the year, and you can’t argue with that choice by Time magazine. Demonstrators in the Middle East changed the course of history, and their counterparts in Russia are causing great concern for the Putin government.
But does the Occupy Wall Street crowd belong in the same issue? Indeed, OWS took the nation by storm, and certainly became the center of dialogue for much of the media. But after three months, what do they have to show for it?
When Michael Mayor Bloomberg removed the tents from Zuccotti Park, it seems the air was taken out of the movement. The group insisted that it would not be fazed after finally getting the boot, but its goals continue to be unclear and unfocused.
If anybody is wondering where OWS hangs out now, well, it seems, they’ve gone inside. I stumbled upon a group that has taken up shop at 60 Wall Street. I happened to be doing a live shoot in front of the building after a security threat, when I noticed somebody entering the building’s plaza carrying a backpack with a gas mask dangling from it — not the usual hardware of the investment banker.
In the lobby of the building is a giant plaza area, open to the public. OWS was holding various meetings and engaging in their usual political debates. The building management did not seem to care. But nobody in the plaza caught the irony. The building, owned by Deutsche Bank, on Wall Street no less, was allowing “safe haven” to OWS. A beautiful setting, out of the rain and the snow and the cold, complete with a nice bathroom along with plenty of tables and chairs. All brought to you by the “One Percent.”
But the patience of others who have indulged OWS is clearly growing thin. Trinity Church, which has given much support to the movement, is suddenly understanding the phrase, “biting the hand that feeds you.”
Trinity will not allow OWS into Duarte Square Park, a parcel of land owned by the church that the protesters now covet, perhaps to use as their next camp site. But Trinity has decided enough is enough. Some in OWS did not take no for an answer and stormed over the chain-linked fences surrounding the park. Police moved in and arrested 50 protesters.
In the past, such actions would have commanded front-page attention, but this time the story wound up on page 12 of The Post and page 16 of the Daily News.
This is indicative of the group’s waning influence on the political discourse. The public has gotten bored. Many in the movement assure me that OWS is just taking time to plot its future. But others also say it’s been tough to come to a consensus in a leaderless group.
So unlike the Tea Party, which took its case to Washington and wound up turning the House from Republican to Democrat, and is still casting a giant shadow over the GOP presidential race, OWS remains a group in search of a clear message. It never wanted to take clear stands on issues, for fear of being marginalized and catergorized by the media. But that’s what happened anyway.
They could still make an impact next year. But for now they need a new game plan and a place to “play.” The Washington Mall looks very inviting.