Occupy Wall Street Protestors - Photo Credit: Joe Marino/NY Daily News

Ok, so I get the idea that many of these protestors in Lower Manhattan and around the country are taking a stand against corporate greed, bank bailouts, the dizzying number of home foreclosures and unemployment.

The great thing is that they have the right to peacefully express themselves here in the United States of America, not so in places like Iran, North Korea, Cuba, or Venezuela.  And in 2011, Social Media is playing a major part in mobilizing people in multiple locations around the country and around the world’s financial centers.  As of 4:30pm on Friday, Oct. 14th, Occupy Wall Street has 71, 345 followers on Twitter, and 206,233 Likes! on Facebook.

What I don’t particularly care for is the promoting of anarchy, socialism, and the calls for the tearing down of society as we know it.  Not every protestor shares these last sentiments, but a few rotten apples can muddy the #message and defeat the #cause.

So what exactly is the #message or the #cause?  Right now, these protestors are like rebels without a clear cause; they are frustrated individuals who are so mad at (fill in the blank), that they simply want to be heard. “I’m made as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” They have the fervor of Vietnam War protestors, and the power of social media; but they lack a clear, focused message.

#OccupyWallSt has no clear #leadership.  This is evident by the free-for-all comments/quotes/sound bites in print, online and broadcast news.   In fact, they boast this on their website www.occupywallstreet.org: “Occupy Wall Street is a leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that we are the 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%.”

Any true #movement has a leader or leadership team orchestrating the program helping them define their message in a clear and consistent manner.   Now just because a politician, musician, actor, or some other celebrity makes a cameo at a protest with the media present — that doesn’t mean that you have a bonafide, sustainable movement. Leadership, focus and direction are key to the legitimacy of any movement.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Photo Credit: CS Monitor
Philippines President Corazon Aquino

The Anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa had Nelson Mandela.   Here in the US, the Civil Rights movement had the SCLC and ultimately Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The United Farm Workers had César Chávez.  The anti-Marcos populist movement in the Philippines had Benigno (Ninoy) Aquino, and later his widow who became President Corazon (Cory) Aquino.  These people and their movements had a clear message, defined agenda, and were they were deeply committed to their cause for the long haul.

I will say that many of the personal stories of protestors are compelling, poignant, and truly make me empathize with these individuals.  But how do those stories lead to meaningful, positive change in society?

It doesn’t matter if you #agree or #disagree with them.  What the world is waiting for is true #leadership on behalf of Occupy Wall Street so that we know exactly what it is that they stand for: Job Creation?  Stopping Home Foreclosures? Redistribution of Wealth?  Free Healthcare?  Socialism?  Legalization of Marijuana? Free Lattes @Starbucks?

Once they truly define themselves, then we can engage in a healthy debate which would hopefully and ultimately lead to a positive societal change.  Come to think of it, I really like that last position — who wants to join me @ #OccupyStarbucks? (I’ll drink to that!)

Notable Coverage:

From CBS New York.com:  Reports from CBS2’s Dave Carlin, 1010WINS’s Steve Sanberg & WCBS  Newsradio 880’s Marla Diamond & Alex Silverman:  http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/10/14/violence-breaks-out-during-occupy-wall-street-march-on-wall-street/?utm_source=home&utm_medium=dl&utm_campaign=protesters-cops-in-skirmish

From CNBC: http://www.cnbc.com/id/44906790

BTW, for a different perspective, check out these reports  from NYU graduate journalism students, under the direction of Prof. Yvonne Latty: