Occupy Miami Struggling To Gain Traction

Published On: Oct 12 2011 03:33:55 PM EDT
Updated On: Oct 11 2011 07:36:20 AM EDT
MIAMI -

Karja Hansen is an organizer for a sub group of Occupy Miami.

She explains how groups of people are working in what they call, solidarity, with Occupy Wall Street.

Local 10 asked Hansen to explain what they are advocating for.

?The overarching national message is, and you?ve heard it, we are the 99%. It is a caution about greed, about people who have achieved positions of power with the promise to use that power for the benefit of the people, who are supporting them in that power, and greed is what?s happening instead.?

Hansen explained how the concept is that the nation?s powerful elite of elected officials and corporate tycoons are stripping the rest of us from having a voice.

?That power is not being used in the people?s best interest.?

It?s a message that has resonated in a big way from New York to Chicago. In just the past few weeks hundreds of people have gathered to express their outrage.

Occupy Miami has its own website.

Hansen said of the site, ?over 48,000 people have visited that site. There are over 8,000 people who are actively engaging each other on that site about moving this forward.?

They?ve also launched a Twitter feed and Facebook page with video clips of their meetings posted on Ustream.

But so far, the interest expressed by thousands online has yet to translate into large scale protests.

Local 10?s Christina Vazquez asked Hansen, ?What makes Miami different? Why has it been so hard for you guys to generate the same numbers??

Hansen replied, ?Miami is clearly a place with a lot of conflict and the 99% is the unifying message but there is a lot of pull against each other in the individual messages. ?

She said right now they are trying to help people understand that, ?we need to step up and represent ourselves because we?re not being represented.?

Critics argue that the movement lacks focus, Hansen said, ?I do worry about that,? but added, ?Please excuse us as we figure ourselves out. We?re working on it and I say we are making incredible progress.?

Their biggest challenge to actually mobilizing people, said Hansen, is the structure of the organization. "The decision-making structure. How are we going to be making decisions? We?re talking about doing educational courses on how to peacefully protest, on how to organize peacefully," explained Hanse. "You look at the civil rights movement and that?s something that took years to establish a voice and make changes and progress, marches over years. And then you look at the last three weeks. It really is a pressure cooker with the internet and media and citizen journalism. We?re in the spotlight as we go through our growing pains.?

Hansen also spoke about why she thinks organizers in New York City have had more success when it comes to the sheer numbers of people who are participating.

?They started out as a small group and they built up and people plugged into a system they already established. Here in Miami, we went from zero to 7,000 in under two weeks. Additionally, in New York there?s a much stronger activist and advocate community there than there is in Miami. They are much more experienced in the much more serious levels of it, so they had that experience to go with, where again these are things that a lot of us are just figuring out.?

Meantime George Gonzalez explained why historically, it has always been difficult for national movements to gain traction in Miami.

The Associate Professor of Political Science at University of Miami said Miami?s urban sprawl is a barrier because.

Places like New York, Chicago and Washington D.C. have urban density and public transportation making large gatherings of people easier.

He also says the area?s migrant population is a factor.

It is what he calls a ?transient? area with people coming and going from other states and emigrating from other countries.

Often these people care more about what?s happening at home than here.

Plus he says immigrants are often grateful for the chance to live in Miami and so may not participate in a protest they deem as critical of their host government because they want to be a good guest.

Hansen said, ?It?s a valid point but I think that we have already overcome that here in Miami. It?s just a matter of bringing them all together and finding a larger structure to move forward. When you go out to these things it is clear this is not something that is going to subside, it?s not something that?s going to be sidetracked, this is growing and we?ll be here. If we want a representative government we have to be that representative government and we are figuring out how to do that.?

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