A year ago yesterday, the Occupy movement got started with its first group of young people, aged hippies, and transients camping outside Wall Street. The movement started up as a carefully planned event to draw attention to riches and unfair practices in banks and corporations. Their complaints were mostly that cronyism by big companies and the wealthy were hurting average and poor Americans.
Like the Tea Party Movement, Occupy was concerned that big companies and financial corporations got bailouts, but the average person got no help at all. And there were certainly aspects of the movement that I was sympathetic with, it was their idea of solutions and behavior I had a problem with.
When Occupy first started up, the left instantly praised and glorified them. The legacy media was gushing with praise, the Democrats in office all the way up to the president were glowing and complimentary:
"I support the message to the establishment. Change has to happen. We cannot continue in a way that does not -- that is not relevant to their lives. People are angry."
-Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
"The protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works."
"We are on their side."
“It’s got a clear message, and that is frustration with the way that business is being done, the way that wealth is tilting towards the high end and the middle class is shrinking. And that message needs to be given.”
-Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT)
“I’m so proud to see the Occupy Wall Street movement standing up to this rampant corporate greed and peacefully participating in our democracy.”
-Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY)
“All of us should join that movement."
-Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
“We have been inspired by the growing grassroots movements on Wall Street and across the country. We share the anger and frustration of so many Americans who have seen the enormous toll that an unchecked Wall Street has taken on the overwhelming majority of Americans while benefiting the super wealthy. We join the calls for corporate accountability and expanded middle-class opportunity.”
-Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN)
"I’m so proud to see the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement standing up to this rampant corporate greed and peacefully participating in our democracy."
-Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY)
"You’re exercising the right every American holds most dear: The right of freedom of expression. And with that expression, you’re finally getting the attention of the nation. Wall Street banks got billion dollar bailouts, yet the American people get austerity."
And on and on. These days you don't hear or read that kind of thing, though. After a few weeks it became clear that the movement was aimless, confused, and without pattern. There was only a general shared discontent about how things were, but almost no shared understanding of what that was or how to fix it. Interviews with the people involved revealed they were almost totally ignorant of life and what they were doing there. Filth began to pile up and an infamous picture of a young man defecating on a police car became the central image of the movement.
Then it got ugly. Stories of rapes and abuse of women in the camps began to filter out. Power plays by "ruling councils" and fights between groups started to leak out. Misuse of funds and donations, theft, and even murders began to be reported. The grounds that occupy folks stayed at were destroyed and filthy, with piles of feces and vomit, and the grassy areas reduced to mud.
Finally, a group of young men in the movement - including several leaders - were busted trying to blow up a bridge in Cleveland. Criminals and troublemakers kept being found in the occupy camps. Diseases associated the middle ages began to arise. Lice, dysentery, and other ailments spread through the camps.
Initially, the comparisons to the Tea Party Movement were made (some positive, such as Representative Welch, quoted above), usually that occupy was a real grass roots movement and the Tea Party was a bunch of GOP racist phonies, but those have gone away. So have the positive news stories, the compliments from Democrats, and the coverage.
Occupy its self is pretty much gone, too. Unlike the Tea Party Movement, which was simply a visible outpouring of frustration and fury at government gone wild, the occupy movement was a carefully staged leftist product, yet another of the endless attempts to match the Tea Party which have failed. Occupy was more successful than most, but in the end fell to pieces. There are good sides to it though. The cops solved a few crimes by busting people in the movement, and caught several fugitives hiding in the camps.
Occupy wasn't entirely wrong in its concerns, it was just a leftist device and its goals were never clear. It didn't achieve anything its founders set out for it to, and in the end just made the left look worse.