Occupy Wall Street Must Make Headlines Again

The Movement Has Lost Attention, But a Clearer Focus, Not Violence, Could Bring It Back


Protesters need to create attention again, but without resorting to violence or inciting police brutality. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

Back in September, the media blasted us with reports of police abusing  their power by pepper spraying on protestors in New York City. This was my first exposure to what would become the world phenomenon known as Occupy Wall Street (OWS). Since then, there has been some media coverage of the major events of the OWS movement—such as the Brooklyn Bridge occupation, the forced evacuations of protest sites and Oakland’s police brutality instances. All of these examples focus on the controversy of police response but they do not necessarily focus on the protestors’ actual message.

OWS seems to have quieted down as of late. If you haven’t been looking for it in the news, chances are you haven’t really heard anything in the major media outlets.  It seems like the biggest media coverage OWS has gotten is when violence is involved. Apparently, this country can only see injustice when it’s in the physical form. But the injustice that the OWS movement is exposing is just as strong as the pepper spray being misused by the police. The injustice that they want to highlight is about our increasing economical inequality, a matter of which most of the nation is misinformed.

Riots in Egypt have erupted again and from what I can see, they have received a lot of coverage. The riots are extremely violent, and so they attract the media, who love taking photos and documenting it. It raises a question to the OWS protestors: Should they be violently rioting to get their message across?

My answer is both yes and no. I personally am a pacifist and don’t believe in violence. OWS has remained nonviolent and it gives the protestors an aura of respect. These people are angry, so they’re showing their anger through demonstrations and words. They don’t think it’s effective to fight the government. We are a democracy so it makes sense that the protestors believe they can get their point across with their voice, not their fists. So, by all means, Occupy Wall Street should remain a non-violent protest because our government is supposed to listen to the people. Our voices should be heard.

Still, after months of protests, most Americans still don’t take the protestors seriously. The movement has been seen as a “hippie” movement, or recently people just believe that the youth are yelling just to yell and to cause a commotion. We’re in the middle of an economic problem and most of the United States remains uninformed as to the great division between the poor and rich. The media only wants to shed the light on the movement if there’s something violent going on.  So, it seems as if America is pushing for a violent movement.

President Obama has yet to even address the movement—an action that speaks so much to what the movement is going through. They are protesting in a democracy so that their government could take notice. Yet the President hasn’t even mentioned OWS. Maybe if we started to actually fight, he’d comment on something. Or maybe President Obama doesn’t want to give strength to the voices speaking out.

On the other hand, I do think that the protests have to become more organized in the coming months. I think if they do remain nonviolent, which I hope they do, they have to really buckle down and organize a plan to be taken seriously. Or, take the violent route and riot so that the media pays attention(which I don’t suggest they do).  The protestors should have a clear message to throw at the media rather than the media searching for a controversial one. The World Press Photo, an organization that picks strong photos that depict the current state of the world, couldn’t pick any photos that represented OWS. Photojournalists can’t pick out the voice of this movement because they’re focusing on the controversy and violence rather than the educational side of the movement.  The media is supposed to report on things that impact our nation, so I think if they correctly report on what and who OWS is, we’ll get somewhere. Because right now, the movement is still as misunderstood as that first day in September, when all the world took notice of police brutality, rather than the focus of the movement itself.