Posted by: CeCe | January 21, 2012

Why the Occupy movement will fail

Most of my friends on Facebook have probably noticed by now that I’m very much behind the Occupy movement, so some of you may be surprised to see the title of this post.  You may also be surprised to know that I do believe the movement will fail.  It can’t, it shouldn’t, but it probably will.  Here’s why:

1)      Although the reasons for the movement are very valid, the demands aren’t being made clear enough.  Because the demands aren’t being made clear enough, people don’t know whether to support the movement or not.  When protests were popping up during the Civil Rights movement, anyone who wanted to get behind it knew exactly what they were protesting.  Can we say the same for Occupy?

Now granted, I do know what Occupy is about, but the complaint amongst those who don’t know and who aren’t behind it is that there’s no clear goal.  It doesn’t help that “Occupy” came to mean “protest whatever we want under the guise of being behind the Occupy movement, thereby giving the movement a bad name”.  Which brings me to my next point.

2)  Occupy protesters have alienated a large portion of the American population by protesting things that aren’t actually supposed to be part of the Occupy message.  For example, in Springfield, Massachusetts, Occupy protesters gathered to protest against a coffee shop owned by Pastor Scott Lively.  I’m not going to discuss whether they were right or wrong in this, only that it was a stupid mistake to protest under the Occupy banner.

3)       Many of the protests have involved breaking the law.  For example, in Los Angeles, I was watching Occupy protesters making all kinds of noise at 2 and 3 in the morning.  This is not how to get people to take a protest seriously.  Why?  Because it’s disturbing the peace.  That’s breaking the law.  As soon as you break the law, you lose your constitutional right to assemble, because the police may start to think that there is going to be a riot.  That means that not only are they going to be more intolerant of that particular protest, but they’re going to be intolerant of all of those under the Occupy banner.  Further, how do you think those who aren’t involved in the movement are going to view it?  They’re going to be extremely wary of becoming involved because they probably don’t want to be arrested, and what’s more, unruly protests often involve injuries and sometimes even death.  Who wants to risk that?

If Occupy protesters want to learn how to send a message, they need to model their protests after those of the Civil Rights movement, particularly under Martin Luther King, Jr., who modeled his protests after Gandhi.  Silence, in this particular case, would have been an effective weapon, because if there is a group of hundreds of people not saying a single word but holding up their signs, that sends a much more powerful message than any shouted slogan.  And what’s more, if protesters do that, they can’t be accused of breaking the law, and then when and if police commit acts of brutality against them, then they can level accusations at them for violating their constitutional rights!  But when protesters try to “rush” cops or shout them down, that sends a very negative message.

4)      Speaking of messages, I touched on it briefly earlier, but I just want to say one other thing:  If the Occupy movement had chosen one clear goal, such as getting money/corporations out of politics, that would have been so much easier for people to follow.  The reason that other protests have been successful is because they chose one thing to protest.  That was their rallying cry.  I mentioned the Civil Rights movement earlier, and it’s valid in this point too:  During the 1960s, there was a lot more going on besides the Civil Rights movement:  the Cold War was going strong, feminism was on the rise, there were talks of whether or not abortion should be legal, there was the Vietnam War, the overturning of prayer in school, the revolution of music, and the assassination of a president.  It was a very tumultuous period in history!  But when people marched under the banner of the Civil Rights movement, did they involve any of those other aspects?  No.  And that is one of the reasons that the movement was successful.

5)       The Occupy movement is dirty.  And I’m not talking about the protesters themselves; though let’s face it, quite a lot of them have spent so much time “Occupying” their downtown that they haven’t gone home to take a shower for several days.  I’m talking about the encampments.  There have been numerous reports of graffiti, drug dealing, fights, theft, public urination and other sanitation issues, litter, and drug use.  There has been squatting (which is against the law!), and other forms of defacement of public property (like a person who defecated on a police car in New York City).  So we have unruly crowds who have no compunction about breaking the law or rushing cops, who are dirty and cost the cities in which they protest millions of dollars (which the taxpayers have to pay, by the way)… and they want people to get behind them?

Like I said in the beginning, I do support the movement itself and most of the issues behind it.  What I cannot and will not support is the protesters themselves and how they’ve acted.  They have totally and completely ruined their chances of getting their (very excellent and valid) message out, because they were stupid and didn’t know how to protest in a lawful manner.  And that’s really a shame, because we need to make some of the changes they suggest.

Now if they made some changes, maybe they’d succeed.  Here are my suggestions:

1)       They need a centralized message, something simple and easy to understand, summed up in as few words as possible.  The Civil Rights movement had “Freedom Now” and “We Shall Overcome”.  “We are the 99%” is good, but I think it could be better and easier to understand.

2)      They need a centralized messenger, or a symbol of some kind.  The 60s protests used the peace sign for a symbol, and the two most prolific messengers of the Civil Rights movement were Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr.

3)      They need to obey the law.  Loitering with tents and litter everywhere sends a negative message, as does graffiti and squatting.  Protests should be quiet in volume, with as little negative impact to the environment as possible.

Until and unless something changes, the movement’s failure is almost certain.  And that is both scary, and shameful, because it could have ended on much more positive note.



  1. CeCe, what you are saying is incredibly perceptive. The single rallying needs to be done. The other irony is the Occupy.

    When the ultra conservatives (politically) believe that the poor who seek governmental aid are freeloaders, what is their perception of protesters that are literally living in dirty filthy surroundings, and not out seeking work? That scenario actually affirms the conservative’s viewpoint.

    • Sorry, I was typing quickly above and did not take the time to edit my post. Should read:

      “The single rallying point needs to be focused upon. (The other irony sentence was to be deleted).

  2. Exactly. Thank you!

  3. […] failing due to a lack of ability to properly protest while still being law-abiding citizens here: so I’m not going to address the Occupy movement […]

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