The Breakdown

Explaining Southern California's economy

Occupy Wall Street: Out of gas?

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At MarketWatch, Jon Friedman thinks so — and looks no farther than his ink-stained brethren for blame:

The media, serving as a proxy for the general population, are impatient and bored by what outwardly seems like a marked lack of progress.

No less an authority on American social movements than folk singer Joan Baez, a notable dissident during the eras of the Vietnam and nuclear protests, said: “I’ll be convinced when it develops a real direction. ... So far it’s hard to tell.”

The only time someone gets excited about the protests these days is when some external force intervenes, such as when New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg attempted (unsuccessfully) to clear the park, purportedly to clean it.

Bummer. Althought those involved with the Occupy Oakland wing of the movement might disagree, as protestors there clashed with police over an effort to shut down the city's port. 

Actually, what's happening now is that the movement is splitting into two different types of protest: one relatively peaceful, the other increasingly violent. This is an inherent problem with a leaderless organization: there's no way to prevent Occupy Oakland from moving on a symbol of commerce because there's no central commend calling the shots. Meanwhile, Occupy LA is content to sit quietly in the shadow of Los Angeles City Hall — right across the street from LA's police headquarters and the Los Angeles Times building. Ignored by both media and law enforcement!

They just aren't making enough trouble. I went down to Occupy LA a few weeks back and the only thing aggressive that happened was that someone asked me to take a picture of them cooking a late lunch and email it to them.

The Occupy Movement may now be at a crossroads. Its chief target — the nation's financial elite — knows that winter is coming and that cities are beginning to want their parks back. Wall Street can wait it out. 

But Wall Street shouldn't get overconfident, either. The Vietnam War protests simmered for years, staging periodic events to remind folks that the opposition, while not ever-present, was ever-organized. The media may not be interested in OWS anymore. But that doesn't mean the people aren't still angry.

Follow Matthew DeBord and the DeBord Report on Twitter.

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