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Occupy Wall Street: On Global Scale Roughly Third Of People Aware Of Movement, Poll Finds

Occupy Wall Street

First Posted: 01/20/12 06:59 AM ET Updated: 01/20/12 02:52 PM ET


(Corrects spelling of Keren in paragraph 9)

By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Only about a third of people across 23 countries are aware of the nascent U.S.-led Occupy movement against economic inequality, a global poll found on Friday as protesters prepared to take to the streets around the United States.

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Under the banner "Occupy the Courts," organizers expect thousands of people to rally on Friday at 150 courthouses to mark the second anniversary of a Supreme Court ruling that protesters say allows unlimited corporate campaign donations.

While in San Francisco, activists from 50 organizations are set to "Occupy Wall Street West" with plans to target 22 bank branches and other financial industry offices and disrupt the city's financial district throughout the day.

The four-month-old movement has clearly influenced the national political conversation, with even President Barack Obama echoing some of its themes in calling for a "fair shot" and "fair share" for all.

Still, protest crowds often number in the hundreds rather than thousands of people, despite the movement's headline-grabbing antics and social media savvy.

Critics accuse the Occupy protest of not having a clear message or demands and the new poll of more than 17,000 people by global research company Ipsos for Reuters found that the movement's ambiguity could be hindering its growth.

More than half of those surveyed by Ipsos were unsure how they felt about the movement -- which prides itself on being leaderless -- while a third sympathized with the protesters and 13 percent had an unfavourable view of the group.

Yet when told more about the general objectives of Occupy -- to protest social and economic inequality, corporate greed, the power of the financial sector and the global financial system -- sympathy for the group rose to 53 percent from 33 percent.

"This shift in favorability suggests the movement could have greater support if they communicated their goals more clearly. Until then, the primary response will continue to be a lack of awareness," said Ipsos spokeswoman Keren Gottfried.

Ipsos polled Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Britain, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States.

"The data shows that, in these uncertain economic times, global citizens can relate to frustration towards social and economic inequality, corporate greed, the power of the financial sector and the global financial system," Gottfried said.

Inspired by the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street began when protesters set up camp in New York's Zuccotti Park on Sept. 17, sparking demonstrations across the United States and elsewhere in the world and, in some cases, violent clashes with police.

But the eviction of protesters in New York and public spaces in other U.S. cities in November and December has made the protests less visible and organizers now face the challenge of how to maintain momentum without the physical camps.

Protesters say they are upset that billions of dollars in bailouts given to banks during the recession allowed a return to huge profits while average Americans have had no relief from high unemployment and a struggling economy.

They also believe the richest 1 percent of Americans do not pay their fair share of taxes.

The Ipsos poll found that awareness of the Occupy movement is highest in the United States (61 percent), followed by Canada (60 percent), India (59 percent), and Turkey (51 percent). It is lowest in France (18 percent), Russia (21 percent), Brazil (21 percent), Belgium (24 percent) and Mexico (24 percent).

The poll was conducted between Nov. 1 and Nov. 15 and has an estimate margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points. (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Paul Thomasch)

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Via HuffPost Miami:

When an Occupy Miami member offered evicted protestors vacant apartments in a building he owns in Downtown Miami's Overtown neighborhood, it seemed like the perfect solution: the 'Peace City' space would provide headquarters for the movement and shelter a small faction of the group's most vulnerable members. But it hasn't gone well. Other tenants say the building has become a cesspool of drug use and violence while non-resident Occupy Miami members are trying to distance themselves from the 'radicals' -- all while the two factions are wrestling for control over Occupy Miami's social media sites and future plans.

From the Miami New Times:

The feud between the Overtown occupiers and more mainstream members has only gotten worse. The two factions are now battling for control of Occupy Miami's social media sites. The movement's main Twitter account recently announced it had been "hijacked by a small, non-consensus group of radical members." The Occupy Miami Facebook page was also temporarily hacked by someone inside Peace City. Meanwhile, the Overtown occupation is slowly driving away more moderate members.

"This is a black eye on the Occupy movement," says Shannon Reaze, an Overtown community organizer and Occupy Miami supporter who is now helping tenants move out of Paz's building. "The violence and drugs going on here are way outside of what I thought Occupy stood for. This place is destabilized."

...The supposedly hard-core activists here spend their days drinking and getting high. And as Peace City devolves into lawlessness, the most committed occupiers are leaving. Local landowners and politicians want the place shut down, while cops are suspicious. Yet as long as Paz wants the protesters around, nothing short of a demolition order can keep them out.

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Via HuffPost DC:

WASHINGTON -- Occupy DC has a new lawsuit involving tents on its hands. But it doesn't involve temporary structures in McPherson Square.

Two protesters arrested during a February action outside Merrill Lynch's offices on 15th Street NW near McPherson Square have filed suit against the Metropolitan Police Department, Legal Times reports. (Read the complaint here.)

The plaintiffs, Samuel Dukore and Kelly Canavan, were part of a "targeted occupation" of Merrill Lynch on Feb. 13 where protesters were raising awareness about Merrill Lynch's reportedly close ties with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). Issa, for his part, claims that the reports of these close ties are "wildly inaccurate."

Full story here.

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OWS reports via its website:

After the brutal attack on the attempted re-occupation of Liberty Square by NYPD on the 6-month anniversary of #OWS, a number of Occupiers have relocated their base of occupation to Union Square in midtown Manhattan, a point of convergence for several #OWS protests over the past 6 months.

According to reports on the ground, several dozen people slept in the park after the illegal and violent raid on Liberty Square. Over 70 people remain, now on Day 3. Although tents and tables are still banned, Occupiers have brought blankets and sleeping gear. Many are calling it ¨the new Occupation.¨ In addition to holding General Assemblies, Union Square Occupiers are providing vital jail support for those arrested on #M17 as they are released from NYPD custody. So far, the NYPD has made no attempt to remove Occupiers or prevent them from sleeping in the park.

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Occupy Long Beach is defending the mother's home. For more information, click here.

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The woman had the apparent seizure has been identified by the New York Observer as Cecily McMillan:

Cecily McMillan, an Occupy Wall Street activist once profiled in Rolling Stone, suffered a seizure Saturday night during protest action near Zuccotti Park. Many on-scene reported Ms. McMillan had trouble breathing after she was tackled and handcuffed by law enforcement.

A video uploaded to Youtube late Saturday night purports to show the attack. Two women can be heard commenting, “There’s Cecily,” then there is confusion as the police clearly perform a violent take-down on someone in the crowd.

According to Jeff Sharlet’s November, 2011 article about the Occupy Movement, this may be Ms. McMillan’s second violent encounter with police.

To read the full story, go here.

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Cops caught on video about 10 seconds in taking down the woman who had the apparent seizure:

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Watch video from inside Zuccotti Park as police moved in late last night:

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The paper reports from last night's chaos at Zuccotti Park:

At one point, a woman who appeared to be suffering from seizures flopped on the ground in handcuffs as bystanders shouted for the police to remove the cuffs and provide medical attention. For several minutes the woman lay on the ground as onlookers made increasingly agonized demands until an ambulance arrived and the woman was placed inside.

By 12:20 a.m., a line of officers pushed against some of the remaining protesters, forcing them south on Broadway, at times swinging batons and shoving people to the ground.

Kobi Skolnick, 30, said that officers pushed him in several directions and that as he tried to walk away, he was struck from behind in the neck. “One of the police ran and hit me with a baton,” he said.

To read the full story, go here.

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@ Greg_Palast : Our photographer ZD Roberts beaten @OWS Zucotti Park by cops. Thrown to ground, hair grabbd, hit with clubs while yelling, I'M PRESS PRESS!

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@ macfathom : Doubling east on Barclay, and now the ragged front of the march is at City Hall. #OWS

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@ LuddoftheFuture : girl in the street having a seizure and the cops have her in handcuffs. can this get any worse (live at http://t.co/4pLyy3gP)

Activists cry out for paramedics. The woman is limp on the ground. "Come on you violent bastards where's the paramedics?"

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@ jeffrae : March is heading north up broadway #ows #occupywallstreet

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@ macfathom : Dozens of arrests, many cuffed and sitting on broadway waiting for their ride to jail. #OWS

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@ RDevro : Police are barricading the park. It's cleared. I witnessed countless violent arrests. No way to estimate numbers.

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@ troutish : Protesters being dragged out by the head at #OWS #Zucotti Park http://t.co/qomhKkrA

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Cops pulling apart human chains. There are shouts for mic checks. Now, chants start forming. "The NYPD are sweeping through," says Tim on the live stream.

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@ ANIMALNewYork : Police are moving in. It's chaos.

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@ ANIMALNewYork : NYPD just made an announcement that Brookfield has to "clean the park" and Liberty Plaza is officially "closed."

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@ OccupyWallStNYC : Bagpipers just started marching into the park bringing the party mood with them, NYPD arrested one of them, and things got real heated. #OWS

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@ JackieHRye : NYPD just "destroyed" the tent in Zuccotti Park, Occupiers call for its re-building. Marching band also going through the park. #OWS

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@ RDevro : The tent in the middle of the park continues to fill with people planning to stay the night. Lots of energy here.

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Activists ask for more room as the tent is growing, expanding.

"It looks like a floating tent." -- as Tim on his live stream.

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Owly Images

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@ OccupyWallStNYC : .@justawall is leading us in a song! "Hit the road, banks! And don't ya come back no more no more no more no more!" #OWS

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Activists have assembled make-shift, cardboard sleeping areas inside Zuccotti Park. The cardboard is joined by a large green tarp.

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@ RDevro : A tarp is going up in Zuccotti as protesters march around the park chant-dancing. #m17 http://t.co/rJfP3GF9

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Filed by Maxwell Strachan  |