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Occupy Chicago anniversary rally, march planned for Monday evening

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

One year ago Monday, Occupy Wall Street began when hundreds of protesters descended on the nation's financial center in New York.

It kicked off a nationwide social movement.

Monday night, a rally is planned in Chicago to mark the anniversary. ABC7's Evelyn Holmes looks at the status of the current Chicago "Occup" movement.

It was an idea first born on Wall Street that eventually occupied Chicago. But, on its one year anniversary, where is the Occupy movement now?

Occupy Chicago member Micah Philbrook says it is alive and well.

"We are growing and evolving as a group, and tactics change," Philbrook said. "So, while you don't see people occupying a park as often anymore, you still see direct action and protest actions in the streets."

Those protest actions include ongoing civil disobedience by Occupy Wall Street protesters. At least 124 people were arrested by New York City police during a Monday march toward the New York Stock Exchange to mark the Year One of the grassroots movement, which started in New York City's Zuccotti Park and spread across the country.

Despite the marches and rallies planned to commemorate the day in more than 30 cities around the world, critics say the Occupy movement appears to be only a shadow of its former self.

university of Illinois at Chicago political science professor Dick Simpson says, while the Occupy movement successfully brought attention to the issues of economic equality, immigration and health care, it stumbled without leadership.

"Like the national movement, they didn't have enough of a strategic focus yet," Simpson said.

Others say Occupy simply grew too large, too fast for the loosely organized network to remain focused.

But, while the mission may sometimes be fractured, its value in the realm of social media is not.

"It changes the way we look at protesting in general, and it changes to way we look at movements by giving us the ability for instant communications and instant results," said social media analyst Christopher Foltz.

Activist Philbrook says that could lead to change.

"The Occupy movement is here and not going anywhere," said Philbrook.

Occupy Chicago also plans to mark the one-year anniversary of the movement. The group and its supporters are scheduled to meet at Michigan and Congress at about 5:30 p.m. for a rally and march to Jackson and LaSalle.

Occupy Chicago is also planning its own gathering to commemorate its beginnings. That takes place Sunday in the city's financial district at LaSalle and Jackson.

(Copyright ©2014 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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