"As the Occupy movement becomes embroiled in local issues, it is the beginning of the end of the movement," predicts David Johnson, a Republican political consultant based in Atlanta and a former speechwriter for ex-Sen. Bob Dole, in an e-mail. "It loses focus from its national objectives, and local issues then lessen the cohesion of the movement."
In Los Angeles, where homeless people had occupied as many as half of the 500 tents that sprawled alongside City Hall before the site was razed, activists are tackling some root causes of homelessness, such as bank foreclosures. The group is demanding a moratorium on foreclosures from Bank of America.
"We are a microcosm of the larger issues," says Alissa Kokkins, a screenwriter and researcher who pitched a tent in the encampment on Day 1 and stayed until the city cleared it on Nov. 30.
In the Midwest, Occupy activists in Chicago and Detroit have rushed to tackle local issues. The Chicago chapter has teamed up with Stand Up! Chicago, a coalition of social and economic justice organizations. They and the nearby Springfield Occupy group are fighting Illinois's proposed $250 million-a-year corporate tax-break package intended to keep the two financial exchanges (the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Board of Trade) and the Sears Holding Corp. from moving out of the state.
Occupy proposes that a speculation fee be imposed on both of the financial exchanges. Occupy is "helping amplify our voice and we help amplify theirs," says Stand Up's Catherine Murrell.
Over in Detroit, "we really don't have to look far to see the incredible injustices that the 99 percent of Americans are facing," says local Occupy activist Jonas Goldstein, a 20-something economic researcher for a union. "Our city is crumbling. There is a lack of infrastructure; there are people with serious mental illness left on the street. If things are bad in the country, they're acutely bad in Detroit." An offshoot of the movement, Occupy the Hood, has begun to tackle local needs through projects such as food and clothing drives.