There are many different opinions regarding OWS, but one thing all can agree upon is that it a form of a protest. Typically, a protest is an appeal to a system for change.
This appeal can be done through gatherings, displaying signs, or distributing information to inform others why you are protesting. Protests can also be violent or passive. However, the common denominator is still the appeal for a change and hoping that the higher power will notice and listen to you. Direct action is taking protesting a step further. Direct action is acting as if the standing structure has no power. Simply, it is no longer an appeal, but a defiance. Action also involves not only defying current laws, but also acting out the changes you wish to see. As an example, the Civil Rights Movement holds excellent examples of each. Protests would have been groups together holding signs asking for equal treatment, but direct action were the acts such as Rosa Parks sitting in the front of the bus. OWS, in my opinion, has aspects of both. There are defiant protests within the movements, such as the hoards of people holding signs asking for change, but I also feel that there is a degree of direct action. The OWSers directly violated several laws, granted they were mostly parks laws about camping and laws restricting park access and occupancy, but they were laws. However, some such as Noah Millman, feel that since the laws had nothing to do with the actual protest, OWS cannot qualify as direct action.
I feel though that the more important aspect is how and why the laws were being broken.The OWS camps were not just about sign gathers; each OWS site became a functioning community with its own structure and rules. These small communes were part of the greater vision of OWS. So if the key components to direct action are breaking laws to obtain the system you wish to see, I feel that OWS accomplished this because they were thriving in a system separate from the American government and Wall Street.