Movement has had no effect in first year

Los Angeles Times


They linked arms, sat and waited for arrest at Zuccotti Park. As police — well, activists playing the role — yanked them into custody one by one, they began chanting: “The whole world is watching!”

Occupy Wall Street’s dress rehearsal this past week came ahead of demonstrations in Manhattan and around the country Monday, when organizers hope to again draw attention to economic woes facing “the 99 percent.”

On Monday, a year will have passed since activists took over the park near the symbolic heart of American capitalism, sparking a movement with offshoots in Los Angeles, Chicago and elsewhere around the world.

But the movement has yet to have a broad tangible effect, leaving some to wonder whether the movement will fizzle.

Polls have shown that the public generally supports Occupy’s message but not its disruptive tactics. A majority of respondents in one poll this spring said the movement had run its course.

As the Occupy movement turns one year old, its primary target — Wall Street — keeps churning out scandals. Major banks have been caught rigging key interest rates, laundering money and taking risky bets that lose billions of dollars.

Yet the movement cannot claim any new policy, law or regulation as its own. Unlike the tea-party movement on the political right, there is no cohesive Occupy group promoting candidates in November’s national election.

“After the media effects wore off, a lot of politicians just figured out that these people weren’t going to matter,” said Theda Skocpol, a professor of government and sociology at Harvard who co-wrote a book about the tea party.

“Politicians pay attention to people who vote or who organize and spend money in elections,” Skocpol said. “That’s what tea party did and does, and that’s what Occupy doesn’t do. I don’t think it matters very much anymore.”

Although activists say they’re building a long-term movement whose goals and measures of success are evolving, the leaderless alliance of myriad activist groups and anarchists has struggled to organize.

Activists say their goal is to create a way to channel energy into affiliated groups seeking social or economic change, often locally and in ways that do not attract media attention.

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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