Reading the national reports of the Occupy protests has me conflicted as I walk in and out of the offices of the Mississippi Business Journal in downtown Jackson.
The national reports conjure up heady folks making an impact on the world as they take on economic inequality and corporate irresponsibility.
Even if, nationally, the scruffy group has been prone to violence, defied police and shown evidence of drug use while camping in public parks across the country — there has been a sense of urgency in the message that is being delivered.
In Mississippi — Smith Park in downtown Jackson, in particular — there is little sense of urgency or sense of purpose.
In interviews we have done with the group, the talking points are all generic and don’t have any specifics that would lead one to believe the Mississippi group is doing anything other than taking up space in a public park.
On the national level, experts say the public supports the message of the Occupy Wall Street movement even if people have reservations about the encampments themselves. And political observers say Democrats may be missing a chance to reinvigorate their base.
In Mississippi, however, there are people protesting for the sake of protesting.
They sit around much of the day smoking, eating and sitting.
Every once in a while, you will hear five minutes of chanting during the lunch hour.
But largely, the Occupy protesters of Mississippi are lazy — even to their own cause.
They have done nothing to educate Jackson’s business community, which walks past the group by the thousands daily. Yet Occupy Mississippi’s numbers generally aren’t enough for a pick-up flag football game in my back yard.
With Mississippi being a conservative state, to begin with, the Occupy team has its work cut out in making a convincing case to the people that see them sitting around every day. Then, to make little or no effort to engage and educate is unacceptable.
Not that I am looking for a giant demonstration, but if you are going to hang around, at least act like you care. Don’t just sit there like a baby bird waiting to get fed by its mother.
Compared to the Occupy protest around the country, Mississippi has got to rank last in zest and zeal. But maybe they think just “occupying” space is enough.
Contact Mississippi Business Journal editor Ross Reily at firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 364-1018