The Guardian reports: Anyone who has walked through Zuccotti Park in recent days will be left in little doubt about the intention of Occupy Wall Street protesters to push on through the winter. Huge military-style canvas tents designed to withstand plunging temperatures have sprung up among dozens of smaller, two and three-person pods. One, marked with a red cross, offers flu shots, while another offers a safe space for women.
But as the diehards in New York and other encampments across the US prepare to dig in, organisers are facing their next big challenge: what next?
In a tacit admission that the protests will be difficult to sustain over the winter, organisers are now focusing their efforts on planning a “spring offensive” with fresh targets, they told the Guardian in a series of interviews this week.
Details of the campaign will be unveiled later this month, according to the activists who say they will spend the winter consolidating their position, broadening their support base and refining communication between Occupy grounds nationwide, using online tools being developed by their IT team.
Keeping the protests alive at all through the cold months is becoming a challenge for a movement flushed with the dramatic success of its first eight weeks.
The Guardian has learned that Adbusters, the Canadian activist group which helped spark the movement, is even considering calling on occupiers to declare “victory” for phase one and go home for the winter – clear recognition that numbers are likely to dwindle anyway and make it increasingly difficult for the protests to maintain momentum and generate headlines.
In its first few weeks, the grassroots protest spread from New York to hundreds of towns and cities globally. It altered political discourse, forced debate away from the deficit towards inequality and, via a series of high-profile actions, marches and – most dramatically – clashes with police, shot up the news agenda worldwide.
But now there are signs that public interest is tailing off, with resources such as Factiva and Google Trends appearing to show a drop in searches for “Occupy Wall Street” over recent weeks. Media coverage, too, is dwindling.
At Zuccotti Park, activists acknowledge that there has been a lull. But they say that, as a measure of the movement’s success, it is irrelevant.
Activist Justin Wedes, who beckoned me to follow him to a meeting as we talked, said: “If the mainstream media has shifted their focus off Occupy Wall Street it doesn’t mean we are not growing as a movement. We are growing every day and new occupations are cropping up.”