The president has finally addressed the issue more then two weeks into the protests, which have spilled out of Wall Street and into numerous cities across the country.
"Occupy Wall Street" has started a movement, how potent and how long of a movement remains to be seen, with winter fast approaching. Not all of the OWS groups are after the same exact goals, as the economy is failing in different ways from region to region, but they all seem to have the same direction to their arguments: we can't make ends meet, and we are the biggest consumer group, yet banks and big corporations are sitting pretty with various safety nets in place.
OWS and the Tea Party
Tea Partiers (who often claim the TEA stands for Taxed Enough Already) have been making a huge push to reconfigure the Republican Party for over a year now, and they've gone from a disorganized mob at the butt of every joke to... a fairly influential group that few credible media outlets take seriously enough to represent as something other than the butt of every joke. Seriously, does anyone else think the media (that isn't someone on Fox News) gives any of the core Tea Partiers air time? They look for the entertaining crazies on the fringe. I doubt that many people across the country are like the people I've seen on TV (granted, I don't watch much TV).
But in comparison to OWS? The Tea Party and OWS both are fed up with the way the middle class has been s**t upon, pardon my language, but they see different solutions to the problem. The Tea Partiers are complaining directly to the government, trying to take back more control of their lives with less government interference and---since the government will have less to do---lowering taxes and even eliminating certain taxes entirely. This "return to small government" movement has nothing to do with OWS, who are going directly to the banks and declaring their need for money to survive any longer, to the world as much as to anyone else.
OWS and the London Riots
A big fear of many of the police who are trying to contian OWS is that this so far fairly peaceful demonstration might escalate into what the world watched at the start of this past August. The London riots started out with several angry young people smashing windows and setting buildings and vehicles on fire in the wake of the death of Mark Duggan at the hands of police. Initially, people had come together in a peaceful protest march both in memory of Duggan and looking for a public apology and explaination by the Tottenham police cheif. Many of the young people interviewed during the actual riots said they were "doing it because of the rich" or "because of the police" or "because things were unfair."
With £200 million of damage, 3100 arrests and about 5 deaths, it is obvious why the NYC police want to try and keep the OWS crowds under control. But there are many basic reasons why it would take a misstep of the NYPD itself to spark a full-on riot. To begin with, while during the riots many claimed that they were looting in protest, that is not how the incident began. Right now, for something to occur in New York on the same scale as the London Riots, the NYPD would have to break out semi-automatics and mow down protesters for marching without a permit. And right now they're only using pepper sray and night-sticks.
The Bottom Line
OWS might be disrupting traffic, and it might be load and it might annoy the hell out of politicians who don't want to be reminded of what their constituents need, but there is no reason to suspect that anyone will get needlessly violent. And, most importantly, there is no reason not to take "these people" seriosly.