By Meghan Barr
NEW YORK -- Occupy Wall Street began to disintegrate in rapid fashion last winter, when the weekly meetings in New York City devolved into a spectacle of fistfights and vicious arguments.
Punches were thrown and objects were hurled at moderators' heads. Protesters accused each other of being patriarchal and racist and domineering. Nobody could agree on anything and nobody was in charge. The moderators went on strike and refused to show up, followed in quick succession by the people who kept meeting minutes. And then the meetings stopped altogether.
In the city where the movement was born, Occupy was falling apart.
"We weren't talking about real things at that point," says Pete Dutro, a tattoo artist who used to manage Occupy's finances but became disillusioned by the infighting and walked away months ago. "We were talking about each other."
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The trouble with Occupy Wall Street, a year after it bloomed in a granite park in lower Manhattan and spread across the globe, is that nobody really knows what it is anymore. To say whether Occupy was a success or a failure depends on how you define it.
Occupy is a network. Occupy is a metaphor. Occupy is still alive. Occupy is dead. Occupy is the spirit of revolution, a lost cause, a dream deferred.
"I would say that Occupy today is a brand that represents movements for social and economic justice," says Jason Amadi, a 28-year-old protester who now lives in Philadelphia. "And that many people are using this brand for the quest of bettering this world."
On Monday, protesters will converge near the New York Stock Exchange to celebrate Occupy's anniversary, marking the day they began camping out in Zuccotti Park. Marches and rallies in more than 30 cities around the world will commemorate the day.
About 300 people observing the anniversary marched Saturday. At least a dozen were arrested, mostly on charges of disorderly conduct, police said.