The Budding Stars of Occupy Wall Street

Though the movement's officially leaderless, some faces are emerging from the crowd

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It's a leaderless movement, decentralized and purposefully unfocused. Decisions are made by a consensus process that steers carefully clear of patriarchy or singular authority. The Occupy Wall Street movement self-consciously avoids thrusting individual members into the media's eye. The minutes from its organizing meetings use first names only, as do some of the organizers in their media interviews, such as this Beta Beat feature on the occupation's web team. But in spite of themselves, a few individuals have been picked up by the press, in general, as representing the movement's spirit and its message, if not its actual organizational backbone. On Tuesday, the New York Observer pointed out that the coverage of the occupation had morphed into a full-fledged media circus, so we expect to see more stars of the movement emerge as the gaggle of cameras starts to settle on its favorites.

Patrick Bruner: Widely recognized as the occupation's main spokesman, Bruner has been representing Occupy Wall Street to the press since it began. The 23-year-old who lives in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, recently graduated college with a degree in English and has been looking for a job for four months. He "shaved his punkish haircut... after reading a New York Times story that portrayed the protest as a motley crew of anarchists, hippies and delinquents," the New York Observer reported last week. He represented the protesters' outrage when police pepper sprayed demonstrators during a weekend rally on Sept. 24, (CBS News made a tag for his name) and most recently represented the "corporate zombie" spinoff demonstration. Bruner's name also got a lot of mentions for a less triumphant moment in the movement's course: He's the one who initially promoted the rumor that Radiohead was going to play last Friday, and also had to send out the group's apology email.

Jeanne Mansfield: One of the women pepper-sprayed by New York Police Officer Anthony Bologna on Sept. 24, Mansfield entered the public eye with a widely cited firsthand account of the incident in the Boston Review in which she vividly described police abuse, sparking large-scale media interest in the relationship between police and protesters. Mansfield, who attended Boston University (according to her Facebook page) and works as an assistant to the editor at the Boston Review, gave on-air interviews after the incident, and her article supports the Wikipedia entry on the protest.

Jesse LaGreca: The protester gained fame when he gave a particularly biting and articulate interview to a Fox News reporter working on a piece for Greta Van Susteren. LaGreca, a 31-year-old writer from New York who is working on his second novel succinctly rattled off a screed against Fox and corporate media in general, but the interview never aired. Shortly after the New York Observer on Monday ran the raw video it became a viral hit, showing up everywhere from Gawker to Think Progress to The Washington Post. LaGreca's comments have gotten lots of notice, but just as much was the reporter's own response: "Alright, fair enough. You have a voice, an important reason to criticize myself, my company and anyone else."

David Graeber: He was already fairly well known as an anthropologist, anarchist, and activist, but as one of the initial organizers when Adbusters first announced the protest, has come to represent the Occupy Wall Street message. The 50-year-old works as a reader of social anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London, and writes for various publications, including The Guardian. He gave an interview to The Washington Post's Ezra Klein on Monday that got widely picked up by blogs and on Twitter because he expressed the group's theory, and its founding principles, in a way that truly elucidated some of the things people have questioned about it -- like why it resists issuing demands. He's been pushing the message from the start, writing an early version of the group's message and goals in an op-ed for The Guardian last week.

Betsy Fagin: The Brooklyn woman who started the Occupy Wall Street library first got a mention in a New Yorker blog post on the facility. Fagin, a graduate of Vassar and Brooklyn College, is a trained librarian who has published five books, and had her poetry included in a number of journals, according to her website.  The notion of a lending library at the protest encampment caught people's imagination, generating lots of interest on Twitter, where offers of extra books are streaming in, and attention from other blogs, including this one. The so-called People's Library now has its own blog, and while Fagin keeps gracefully from the spotlight, her name has already become linked with the occupation and its library, as a search for it on Google News reveals.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.