As Occupy protesters gathered for the movement’s one-year anniversary across the country on September 17th, crowds were far smaller than organizers expected, leaving many to question whether the Occupy movement is officially over.
In New York, turnout estimates ranged from a few hundred to a couple thousand protesters. Most met in the early morning on Monday to discuss their plans for the day, and protesters ultimately decided to break up into smaller groups to conduct various direct actions across the city. Those consisted of sit-ins at key intersections, surrounding target buildings like Bank of America and the World Financial Center, and a few interesting performance art appearances.
A series of separate marches originating from different locations converged at one point, in which some protesters – like these donning Che Guevara shirts and carrying a communist flag while chanting “we are the proletariat” – stood out with messages of their own.
To some extent -- in the eyes of Occupiers, anyway -- the actions were successful, as their purpose was to disrupt activity during peak traffic hours in the financial district, resulting in a total of nearly two hundred arrests. Conversely, the groups accomplished little of value. Sure, they jammed roadways and succeeded in aggravating workers and commuters in the area, but did they actually change the national conversation or trigger any solutions to their stated woes?
The day ended with a usually fawning media wondering if Occupy was little more than a fad at this point.
But few will forget that the year of the Occupy movement was also marred by moments of violence and crime over the last year, which the mainstream media was often hard-pressed to report. Some of these examples can be seen in the upcoming film, “Occupy Unmasked.”
It remains to be seen how much of the movement - and which factions, if any - will retain any staying power as we near the 2012 elections, and whether or not Occupy will be remembered in the history books as a movement that sparked any real change.