Occupy may be gone, but it is clearly not forgotten. The people protesting Eric Garner’s death in New York City were marching to a slightly different drum beat in 2011, but they seem to have returned, having learned something from their previous mistakes.
If you’ve seen videos of any of the recent protests in New York City, they probably look familiar. Crowds of young progressives marching through the streets, waving signs, and chanting short repetitive slogans. Some of the signs, like the ones created by the ANSWER Coalition, show the same groups are involved, only the message has changed. They started out protesting the Iraq War, then protested the wealthy, and now they’re protesting police violence. The new marches even reuse some of the old chants: “Whose streets, our streets!” and “This is what democracy looks like!” It’s not Occupy exactly, more like Occupy recycled.
What’s different about the current iteration of New York street theater is the abandonment of some of the previous movement’s costly overhead. It suggests progressives, even the ones who weren’t there, have learned some lessons from Occupy’s downfall. In 2011, the very thing which Occupy considered its chief strength—the refusal to go home, the attempts to claim public space as their own—turned out to be its fatal flaw.