Online notes from Saturday's evening assembly show that the group discussed organizing a sit-in at City Hall, decriminalizing drugs and increasing the minimum wage. But protesters also admonished themselves for producing too much trash at the site and urged greater re-use of dishes. A "supplies needed" list called for packing tape, hummus, cotton swabs, deodorant and "anything that will turn bread into a sandwich."

Such mundane preoccupations aside, the Baltimore protest has drawn positive notices from observers of the wider Occupy movement.

A Boston Phoenix blogger, who has toured various Occupy protests for the alternative weekly, said that the Baltimore edition was "impressive in both its energy and organization." The blogger also touted the protest's waste management, noting that Baltimore's outraged had not only rented a portable toilet but had cleaned it regularly.

Cate Conmy was less impressed. The New Yorker was in Baltimore on Monday for a conference of museum workers and strolled through McKeldin at lunchtime. "Honestly, it's a little rag tag right now," she said.

She surveyed the signs spread across the square. "I like that everyone at least left their ideas out," she said of the slogan collage.

Conmy said she and her co-workers have discussed the merits of the Occupy protests around the country. "I don't think the lack of cohesive arguments is a point against it," she said. "I think there's a basic feeling that something is wrong."

Neighboring workers said they have hardly noticed the protesters.

"If not for the fact you just told me it's going on, I wouldn't have known it," said Danny Morales, manager of the M&S Grill at Harborplace. "They've been very well behaved. I haven't even heard them doing any kind of chants."

"Nobody has paid too much attention to it," said Katie Scollan, store manager of the Urban Outfitters shop across the street from the rally. "They've kind of stayed over there. As long as they don't do anything to harm our business, by all means they should stay where they want."

Pfeffer knows that some onlookers are confused and skeptical about a protest with no clear mission.

He started as a skeptic of the Wall Street protests. "It was partly that I didn't understand it," he said. "I wasn't really clear what their goals were."

But he was intrigued by a gathering of Baltimoreans who share his distaste for the political climate. A new force is taking shape, he said, even if he can't quite describe it.

"I'm not there," Pfeffer said of the protest on Wall Street. "I'm in Baltimore, and it's important that something is happening here."

childs.walker@baltsun.com