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Occupy Wall Street anniversary: The state of the Occupy movement, one year in

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Occupy Wall Street is one year old — where does it need to go to remain relevant?

Javier Hernandez is out doing a bit of housework — a concept that's changed considerably since 30-50 people started camping out on his lawn on any given day.

Hernandez's Van Nuys home is the site of an Occupy action. The house, which is home for about a dozen members of the Hernandez family, was foreclosed on.

Late last month, in the middle of his third attempt to renegotiate his mortgage, Hernandez received a notice to vacate the property. Instead, his brother Ulises called in the troops from Occupy San Fernando Valley, who set up camp, hoping to deter any sheriff's deputy sent to clear the family out.

Hernandez said it's been interesting. "I never know what life is going to bring. I just try to make the best of it," he said. 

Ulises Hernandez came to activism through the Occupy movement. (Continued after poll.)


"A couple of days after it started, I decided to go check out City Hall," he said. "The first time I stepped into City Hall, the vibe there? I was hooked."

A lot of people felt the same way. In Los Angeles, hundreds camped on the lawn of City Hall for months — before the city cleared the park in December. Now, almost a year later and as the original Occupy Wall Street movement celebrates its first anniversary, Hernandez and the campers outside his house are among the few keeping the movement and its tradition of direct action alive.

Ulises Hernandez said that the movement might seem small, but their camp outside the Hernandez house works — couldn't that inspire hundreds of others to do the same with their foreclosed homes?

Todd Gitlin, a journalism professor at Columbia University and author of the book "Occupy Nation" said the days of broad participation in protests and encampments is over for Occupy.  

"I don't think the prospect is very great to enlarge the circle of people who're committed to that kind of activity," he said. Those who are doing it now will persist, but you won't again see masses of people who don't usually participate in direct actions jumping in, according to Gitlin.

Gitlin said that a year in, Occupt has accomplished a lot, including being one of the few social movements in U.S. history to enjoy such broad popular support from the get-go.

"It changed the national lexicon — 1 percent, 99 percent," he said. "They had a sizeable impact on the presidential campaign. They galvanized a lot of efforts around the edges."

Yet recent Occupy protests in L.A. and elsewhere have been small — and seem to provoke more eye-rolling than anything else.

In addition to splinters of the movement participating in direct actions, like Occupy San Fernando Valley's camp at the Hernandez house and a recent protest at a Monsanto seed plant in Oxnard, the question for the movement will be if it wants to continue like this — or grow.

Gitlin said some Occupy groups nationwide are doing things that will help the movement forge back into the mainstream, like a group in Maine that's proposing legislation and ballot measures.

"The pain of economic inequality is not diminishing," Gitlin said. "Will organizers figure out how to restart in some way that appeals to popular feeling and overcomes the eye roll factor? We don't know."

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