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Marketplace
Occupy Wall St.

Occupy Wall Street continues

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Jan 16, 2012
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Tess Vigeland: Speaking of Occupy Wall Street, police sweeps have closed many of their camps in a growing number of cities. Among them — New York, Oakland and here in Los Angeles. But the Occupy movement is still active. Demonstrations and marches were held around the country today to mark Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. An “Occupy Congress” protest is planned for tomorrow. And Occupy Wall Street is already gearing up for spring.

Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall-Genzer checked in with the movement, to see how it’s weathering the winter.


Nancy Marshall-Genzer: One of the last big-city Occupy encampments is here in Washington, D.C. Actually, there are two Occupy camps.

Twenty-nine-year-old Sarah Anderson sits in the information tent at the camp in Washington’s McPherson Square. It’s only a couple of blocks from the White House. She says some of her fellow Occupiers still want all meetings held outside, at the camp. But…

Sarah Anderson: You can’t concentrate real good when you’re freezing your butt off.

Anderson says some Occupy D.C. meetings are held in a nearby McDonald’s. Occupy activists in other cities have official indoor digs. Atlanta Occupiers have set up shop in a homeless shelter. Occupy Wall Street has an actual office in lower Manhattan. Some Occupiers say that’s selling out. Becoming too corporate.

But Occupy Wall Street spokesman Ed Needham says it’s just a matter of logistics.

Ed Needham: The simple fact of the matter is that we need a place to work that’s indoors, where we can have meetings, and do the work that we have to do every day.

Harvard business school historian Nancy Koehn has been studying the movement. She says location doesn’t matter. She compares it to other social movements that didn’t have a home. There was no Zuccotti Park for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nancy Koehn: A lot of the early civil rights organizing happened in churches. But it was knitted together by the power of the leadership. So, I don’t think Occupy Wall Street is going to die a slow death if they end up in an office space.

But there will still be growing pains over other steps the movement is taking — like hiring an accountant. Occupy Spokesman Ed Needham says it’s another routine chore on the path to permanence. But, some activists in Washington think Occupy is getting mired in capitalist corruption. Take donations. Twenty-three-year-old Andrew Beale says the movement should only accept donations of food and supplies. And reject cash.

Andrew Beale: Money itself is the root of all the problems that the Occupy movement is fighting against. The old adage that money is the root of all evil, I think that’s absolutely true.

Evil or not, the Occupy accountant may not have much cash to count. Donations have slowed to a trickle.

In Washington, I’m Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

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