One year ago today, the Occupy Wall Street protesters were booted from Zuccotti Park near Wall Street by New York police. Though protesters tried to move back in that winter, efforts were unsuccessful and continual occupation of the park ceased.
What has surprised me since is how quickly the fervor of the movement faded. I remember people comparing the Occupy movement to the Arab spring that had happened in the Middle East just some half-year before.
Today, the impact of the occupy movement, both nationally and here in Rapid City, seems dulled. But at least on the national side, Occupy Wall Street offshoots Strike Debt and Occupy Sandy are making waves.
Strike Debt seeks to buy debt for pennies on the dollar and then abolish it, rather than try to collect it. The group can't buy individual loans, but the collective debt that is sliced, diced, sold and resold. The idea is to relieve Main Street America of burdensome debt possessed by Wall Street.
Meanwhile, Occupy Sandy is collecting and redistributing supplies to victims of Hurricane Sandy more effectively, some have said, than national relief organizations.
Others aren't so confident the movement has done anything but peter out. Earlier this fall, New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin said the movement would be an "asterisk in the history books."
Here at home, Occupy Rapid City has staged some events since the slow down of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The notes for their latest meeting are dated June 18. Some of their most recent actions have mainly promoted Native American voices and they still seem to be discussing, even if not as visibly. But maybe I'm missing something.
Perhaps the movement, both locally and nationally did some real good, added to and changed the discussion in a new way, that will bring about some lasting social change. Phrases like "the 99 percent" weren't part of the lexicon before the movement got started.
On this one-year anniversary of the start of the decline of New York's movement, I'm curious what you think. What has Occupy Wall Street brought to our national political and social conversation? What has Occupy Rapid City brought to Rapid City, and how has it changed the discussion here?