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Many challenges face “Occupy,” Schier says

<oming up on the one-month anniversary of the explosive start of “Occupy Wall Street,” the public protest in New York that has spread across the country as frustrated citizens demonstrate their anger with America’s dire economic situation.  With roughly 15,000 participants in Manhattan alone, and a cluster of supporters bubbling up in cities like Minneapolis, St. Louis and Boston, the movement has become an undeniable issue for legislators to notice and act on.

Described by some as the equivalent of the Tea Party for the Democratic Party, there is blatant left wing liberalism within the protestors’ fiscal demands. Does this mean the protests are reaching a radical turning point, strong enough to force the government to take action?

Political Science Professor Steve Schier doesn’t think so.

“The movement needs more definition, members and resources before Democrats should fully embrace it,” he said.

Largely, Schier believes that the main problem is lack of involvement, numerically speaking. While Occupy Wall Street has captured the attention of the nation, there isn’t enough manpower to move it further along legislatively. Shier believes that this is the distinguishing factor between the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street.

“It’s not the Tea Party yet.  The Tea Party involved many more people and at one time could claiming membership – in the polls – of over 20 percent of the public,” he said. “The Wall Street movement has a long way to go to match those numbers.”

Schier believes that the protestors need a more concise goal. Currently, the protests are letting off emotional steam through the power of free speech, but their ultimate goal is muddled. The self-proclaimed “99%” have let their dissatisfaction with the bigwigs on Wall Street be known, but what do they want to achieve as an organized whole?

Schier believes this is the key hindering factor for a successful and satisfactory result, especially when compared to the March on Washington from the 1960’s, which produced a national and legislative effect.

“The March on Washington changed the national agenda because it was undertaken by a large membership movement with a clear focus,” said Schier. “The Wall Street movement at present lacks the focus and membership to rival the Civil Right movement of the 1960s.”

Note: Assistant Professor of Religion Terrance Wiley yesterday hosted a panel, “Re-Imagining America,” featuring  participants in Occupy Minnesota. Tonight at 6:30 the Weitz Center is hosting a community discussion, “Want to talk about Occupy Wall Street?” All are welcome to participate.

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