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The Beginning of the End for OWS?

The Occupy protest movement probably won’t disappear overnight, but there are growing signs the public’s nerves are wearing thin. Police have cleared out the protests in Oakland and Atlanta, and L.A. looks like it will be next. The latest problems seem to stem from the fact that homeless people, drug addicts and assorted violent criminals have – shockingly! – set up camp with the protesters, creating public safety and health hazards:

From coast to coast, there were signs Wednesday that the Occupy demonstrations, which began in a Lower Manhattan park to protest corporate greed and other economic issues, face a growing backlash over concerns ranging from issues such as noise and sanitation to public safety and general cleanliness.…

Providence, R.I., Mayor Angel Taveras plans to pursue legal action to evict more than 100 protesters from the city’s Burnside Park.

In Minneapolis, where 100-150 protesters crowd onto the Hennepin County Government Center plaza during the day and many spend the night, some residents are tired of the occupation and the cost of providing police services, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson says.

The New York Post reports that the influx of vagrants is even starting to irritate many of the protesters, especially the cooking staff who are fed up with having to serve food to the “professional homeless” all day:

The Occupy Wall Street volunteer kitchen staff launched a “counter” revolution yesterday — because they’re angry about working 18-hour days to provide food for “professional homeless” people and ex-cons masquerading as protesters.

For three days beginning tomorrow, the cooks will serve only brown rice and other spartan grub instead of the usual menu of organic chicken and vegetables, spaghetti bolognese, and roasted beet and sheep’s-milk-cheese salad.…

“We need to limit the amount of food we’re putting out” to curb the influx of derelicts, said Rafael Moreno, a kitchen volunteer.

The occupiers have been prepping for winter, but does anyone actually believe public officials will risk letting them live out in the elements for months? This is going to end at some point soon, whether it’s due to activists leaving out of concern for their own physical safety or police being forced to crack down on the movement.

The question is whether Occupy Wall Street will be able to channel its current energy and create something beyond the current aimless “Be-In” it is right now. If this is going to become a legitimate political movement, it must create specific political goals — something OWS has been allergic to so far. Right now the activists have a physical place to rally around, which means they don’t necessarily need a specific checklist of shared goals and ideals to maintain cohesion. They simply need to show up – just being there is the entire end-game. Once that’s taken away, the only thing that can unite them is a mutual purpose. Whether they’re able to do that remains to be seen.