Contain your surprise at this latest study into Occupy Wall Street’s participants: They are overwhelmingly white, educated, and are more likely to be employed, make over $100,000 a year and be male than the average New Yorker. That composite image you had in your mind of spoiled, rich white guys camping out in Zuccotti Park for the fun of it was confirmed by the movement’s own participants’ self-reported statistics.
The study, commissioned by the City University of New York, interviewed 727 participants about the movement and its structure. The study explained that “despite their relative affluence and their overrepresentation in the professions, many of our respondents had substantial debt or had experienced recent job loss.” Hold the phone. Folks that spent weeks, if not months, sleeping outside while protesting something they were never actually able to identify can’t handle financial or job responsibilities well? Truly shocking.
How much did Occupy’s message speak for Americans feeling overwhelmed by our faltering economy? Initially many Americans may have felt that the discontentment expressed by Occupy matched their own. Soon, however, the movement showed its true colors: it became violent, with skyrocketing reports of rape, vandalism and assault. While the protest movement could have represented a growing majority of Americans financially underwater, it instead was overtaken by folks who thought that defecating on police cars and spilling the contents of Porta-Potties were valid forms of expression.
Unsurprisingly, those antics don’t speak for the majority of hardworking Americans who, no matter their precarious financial situation, would never dream of stooping to OWS’s methods. The problem with OWS was that while its members might have been struggling financially like many other Americans, they were not hardworking nor were they average. It’s no wonder the movement fizzled out: while these Occupiers were struggling in debt of their own creation and sleeping in Zuccotti Park, the rest of America was working to get back on its feet.