LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A movement that began primarily as a protest against corporate greed and corruption has become a nationwide phenomenon that has sprouted hundreds of groups in California alone, according to a new study released Thursday.
The latest incarnation debuted in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday as “Occupy ICE”, which organizers said is aimed at bringing scrutiny to the recent arrests and deportations of illegal immigrants around the city as well as alleged attacks on organized labor.
Nearly 150 “occupations” have been started in the state since the movement first took root as “Occupy Wall Street” in September, researchers at UC Riverside said.
The working group’s study, titled “Diffusion of the Occupy Movement in California,” identified 143 occupations, that are roughly evenly divided between Northern and Southern California.
The researchers used social media including Facebook and Twitter to locate movements, some of which began within days of the original Occupy Wall Street demonstration.
“When you think about the fact that Occupy Wall Street states on their website that they began on Sept. 17, that’s pretty impressive that West Coast towns — some of them medium and small — picked up on it almost immediately,” Curran-Strange said.
Occupy camps have cropped up in a number of Riverside County locations, including the city of Riverside, Temecula, Idyllwild and the Coachella Valley.
Social media sites dedicated to the protests claim up to thousands of subscribers.
The Northern California town of Arcata, a coastal community with 17,000 residents, has around 3,000 subscribers on a Facebook page established by occupiers and their supporters, according to the study.
The researchers noted that activists have a hodgepodge of socioeconomic concerns, including bank reform, foreclosure reductions, and supporting organized labor and tax hikes on the wealthy.
The growth of the occupations reflects the “depth of frustration that people feel about the recession and the austerity measures that have been taken by authorities,” the researchers said.
They added that the recent interruption that occupiers caused during a protest at the Port of Oakland shows “this movement has broad support and is capable of powerful collective action.”
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