Politics

Is this the end (or the beginning?) of the Occupy Wall Street protests?

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Rain falls on the tents of Occupy Wall Street protesters in Zuccotti Park on Saturday evening. (Photo by Alex Goldmark/WNYC.)

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Since the Occupy Wall Street movement began, they've ignited conversations and tensions around the country.

But in recent weeks, events in various Occupy camps have left some wondering if they've jumped the shark — if Occupy Wall Street is winding down. In Oakland, a murder was reported. A rape happened in Philadelphia. In Atlanta, it's a TB outbreak and in New York, home of the original camp, over the weekend there was a wedding despite an outbreaking of an illness called "Zucotti lung."

National Review writer Charles C.W. Cooke said the movement is starting to eat itself.

"It was never united. It was always a group of different people, who flooded in, disaffected people who had a wide-range of issues," he said. "But now you have real tension between the various factions."

Many protesters say there are hangers-on in the camps who have nothing to do with the protest itself — and are giving the protests a bad name.

Alon Ben-Meir, professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at New York University, said these kinds of movements are happening around the world, and it's disingenuous to dismiss these movements as disorganized, disenchanted people is not the reality.

"What we are witnessing is the beginning, certainly not the end," he said. "These are people who are very, very unhappy with a system...that is just not working for them."

To a degree, the Occupy Wall Street protests can be described however someone wants to view them, because they're so varied and egalitarian.

Cooke said, however, that this movement is really just a place for people who are upset about something, anything, to come and express their displeasure. He contrasted that with the civil rights movement, which had courts and officials rallying around what was right and wrong.

Ben-Meir, however, disagrees, citing the growing gap between the richest and the poorest as a very concrete problem those protesting have with the current environment.

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