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Occupy Wall Street 2014: At Zuccotti Park In NYC, A Smaller Crowd But No Less Spunk

From The IB Times:  “The gathering marks the third year in a row that Occupy members have assembled in the Lower Manhattan park where the movement was born. While the crowds have gotten decidedly smaller every year, those who remain say the spirit of Occupy is still very much alive. Many said they came to the park to show their support for a movement they’ve been with since the beginning.

“I’m a member of the original occupation,” said Bobby Steele, 67, a former Wall Street executive who now sports a cowboy hat, face tattoo and facial hair cut to look like Occupy’s trademark Guy Fawkes mask. “When I heard about what was going on three years ago, I had to join.”

While the Occupy brand is still thriving in various incarnations, many who were part of the first encampments abandoned the movement amid frustration over its lack of leadership and organization. Steele, who goes by “Outlaw” Bobby Steele, said he agrees with that criticism, but added that the group’s message is as important as ever, particularly as the economic mechanisms driving the country’s wealth disparity are still in place.

“I think the message will be back as soon as we get the next stock market crash,” Steele said. “With the next crash, they’ll be another wave of people losing their jobs. People will be losing money and the firms will need another bailout.”

Others said they came to the park not just to focus on Occupy’s anniversary, but to celebrate its achievements, including Occupy Sandy, a relief effort that helped victims of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and Strike Debt, an Occupy offshoot that raises funds to buy up and erase debt. On Tuesday the group announced that it had wiped out almost $4 million in student loan debt.

And even bigger Occupy-related events are yet to come. Flood Wall Street, a climate change march planned for Battery Park on Monday, has more than 2,000 guests signed up to attend on Facebook. Some at Zuccotti Park said they planned to attend as well.

If these causes seem disparate for a movement that has been criticized for its lack of focus, some Occupiers insist that’s the point. Bill Johnson, a protester who spoke to reporters Wednesday, said he welcomed the movement’s many incarnations, urging them to seek each other out and learn from each other, if only to make the movement stronger.

“Nobody has a monopoly on the truth,” he said. “Don’t be like some of those troublemakers who have come through here just trying to cause trouble. Be respectful to one another, to visitors and to this park where we began this movement three years ago.”

Royce Christyn
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