As winter rapidly approaches, the greatest challenge to the Occupy movement will be the weather. Occupy Denver has already started to contend with this as the temperature dropped to 20 degrees and snow has covered the city. Already, several protesters have been treated for hypothermia and it only promises to get worse from here. Despite this, the group has rededicated itself to toughing it out.
The ranks will thin out but the protesters are prepared for this. Many are beginning to refer to it as their “Valley Forge moment” in reference to the brutal winter George Washington and the Continental Army endured in 1777-1778. They are preparing accordingly by soliciting professional winter gear or seeking temporary indoor locations in cities, like Boston, that are subject to some of the more vicious winters. Some are even getting advice from many of the homeless that have taken up residence at the camps. An expert is an expert when it comes to survival!
The real hazard for the movement will be “concern trolling” from city officials who may decide that it’s too “dangerous” for the protesters and will attempt to disperse them “for their own good.”
Regardless, winter will test the Occupy movement like nothing else. If it survives the harsh weather (and it will) it will have a claim to legitimacy that the Tea Party could never hope to match. At the end of every Tea Party rally, they got back on their scooters or Koch-funded air conditioned buses and went home. Occupy will have faced down police brutality, mayors and governors in the pocket of the 1% and Old Man winter himself to make their point. The Tea Party talks the talk but Occupy will walk the walk.