Why Occupy Wall Street Is MUCH Bigger Than The Freaks You See On TV

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Photo: Robert Johnson

Having spent some time with Occupy Wall Street protesters it’s clear that the people we take pictures of and report on are not the heart of this movement.They say outrageous things, make for great copy, and clearly, have nothing better to do than spend their days in the streets supporting something.

This says nothing against them. Most are young, and for whatever reason failed to put the enthusiasm and drive into their own lives that motivates them now. Of course, some are straight trouble and just pissed off by bad decisions and unfortunate circumstances.

But they are not what drives this movement.

What will keep the Occupy movement alive without a camp and through the winter months is a deep and unsettling discontent among Americans. And where some see fault with the fact that Occupy Wall Street doesn’t have one fixed demand— in this case, it’s an asset. It means anyone can identify with the many things the Occupiers are upset about. It means that the cause has a huge base.

The Occupiers on the news are the most flamboyant and outspoken folks in a group of very outspoken and flamboyant people. They strive for photo ops and brag about how many reporters they speak to.

There’s nothing wrong with any of this, because the fact that so many different types of people stand behind the movement speaks directly to its strength.

And now that the camps are empty and no one has to worry about running them, perhaps the Occupy movement can get on with the business it set about addressing: Inequality, security for Americans, and a little accountability in Washington.

Occupy Wall Street says yesterday’s events and marches were a success because they shut down street corners. No, yesterday was a success because crowds swelled in the morning before people went to work, people stopped what they were doing at work to watch and listen, and then crowds swelled even more after protesters left the office to take to the streets.

This is not a fringe movement. When a middle schooler can take the microphone last night in Foley Square to speak out against the cuts in her after school programs, even the most obtuse among us can understand.

Yesterday's 'Day of Action' by OWS protesters drew a lot of attention because the issues they represent are real and real Americans are concerned

Americans are making less, the cost of living is increasing and everyday people are a little bit scared

Which is why yesterday's Occupy march from Zuccotti Park to Union Square made many New Yorkers stop and show their support

Especially in New York, people are aware of the vast disparity in wealth distribution

And though they're busy and often jaded, New Yorkers along the route yesterday stopped what they were doing to extend their support and watch the movement

Corporate profits are at an all-time high even as unemployment abounds and social programs are cut

The protests are a result of this deep frustration and why Occupiers' actions can be so extreme and such strong policing is necessary

There is no doubt Occupiers are ready and willing to go to jail for their beliefs

Even if not all Americans understand what the Occupy protesters want, they know something isn't right

They see protesters being arrested while those who nudged the economy into chaos profit and remain free to do it again

Whether you agree with protesters or not, they have everyone's attention

Americans have always been aware of how much the rich possess. But in 2011, it's a matter of how little they find left over for themselves.

So, as protesters marched 500 strong, picking up people as they went along, average American workers stopped what they were doing and paid attention

Happy to just be employed, Americans are aware that corporations and their leaders are not giving back to the country that supports them

And so, while they couldn't be an active part of the protest, they stopped to show their support. The sound from this sea shell horn echoing down 6th Ave was haunting and strangely timeless. Marchers cheered in reply.

Americans have no problem rewarding hard work with with riches and success. It's what makes the American Dream available to everyone and people would never deny themselves the opportunity to join the elite.

But getting ahead is something that's starting to feel out of reach for most people. And so while they were at work or at home, they stopped and watched the march, and showed there is more to this movement than you see at the encampments

It's the unrest growing in everyday Americans.

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