Baristaville Parents Commute to Occupy Wall Street

Margit Berman, Jeremy McDonald and their son Robin McDonald (age 8).

This past Friday’s Family Sleep Over in Zuccotti Park, sponsored and organized by Parents for Occupy Wall Street (PFOWS), was considered a success in that turnout was higher than expected, and both parents and children actually slept. It was a resounding success, according to a local parent who attended, because she “found an amazing, living form of democracy” in Zuccotti Park.

South Orange, NJ mother, and publisher of The Parent du Jour, Lisa Duggan, visited the family-oriented Sleep Over in the midst of Occupy Wall Street to interview participants and assist another parent, Dana Glazer, a film-maker from Ridgewood, NJ, is filming a video showing the face of parents in the movement. Dana is donating his time and skills to create a professional video about Friday’s Family Sleep Over because he feels that the current media representation has been a caricature of who is involved with and passionate about Occupy Wall Street. He hopes that the video will provide a more relatable picture of demonstrators.

Lisa didn’t have her eight-year-old daughter along because she felt she couldn’t only rely on the media’s portrayal of Occupy Wall Street and its participants. Before bringing her daughter, she felt strongly that she had to see it for herself to assess the safety of the area. However, after attending the PFOWS event,  she is confident in the ability of PFOWS organizer, Kirby Desmarais, to provide organization and safety for the children who attended the group’s events. Lisa and her husband plan to visit Occupy Wall Street with their daughter soon.

While the group hoped for 200 participants, by the end of the night, 500 parents and children had signed in to the Family Sleep Over area.  About 100 ended up spending the entire night. You can read more here and see photos of the event in this photo set on Facebook. Families had to show ID, sign-in, wear badges, and check-in on the hour with organizers to make sure all children were accounted for during the night. While their children drew pictures, played, rested, or read stories, parents were able to discuss relevant issues with other like-minded parents.

Throughout Friday evening, Lisa Duggan shared photos and observations about the Parents for Occupy Wall Street group, including photos that showed the play area with arts & crafts for the children, media outlets arriving, and various participants. Also, CNN spent the entire night with PFOWS.  Other participants posted up videos of Dan Zanes’ performance and the drum circle for the children.  The event ended earlier than its scheduled 11 am conclusion due to an emotionally disturbed man scaling a structure to the side of where the children were sleeping.

Other local parents have brought their children to the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations when family-oriented organization was not the focus.  Thom Kennon, a Montclair father of five, took three of his children to Zuccotti Park to deliver pizzas to the demonstrators and show his kids what the “Occupation” looked like. As he describes what they witnessed:  “A revolution fueled not by violent clashes…but by dread-locked white kids prepping lunch, professor-like custodians sorting sleeping gear, self-proclaimed “oddball” economists teaching the press…” The conversation he had with his children during the ride home showed that the experience had a deep impact on all of them.

Another Montclair family, Forrest Mulcahy and Emily Archer, made attending Occupy Wall Street a three-generation affair. They brought their two young children as well as Forrest’s mother to the demonstration. As to motivation, Forrest explains, “I hoped to add mass and morale to a movement which deserves to be recognized and discussed. I hoped to show others not-yet-involved, that Occupy Wall Street is indeed about the 99% -working families like ours –  not just a fringe of ‘unemployed hippies.'”

Tell us what you think: Would you bring your children to experience Occupy Wall Street or any other demonstration?

(Photos courtesy of Lisa Duggan’s Twitter Stream.)

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  1. “Hey Hon? Let’s throw the kids in the Volvo and go to that income disparity protest thing! On the way we can get Babbo to go!”

  2. I get the whole OWS movement and all, but is it a little irresponsible to bring your young children to sleep over in the park?

  3. All I can say is INSANITY..this is borderline child abuse. These parents should be ashamed. I don’t get the OWS movement at all. They should be outside the White House protesting the government for their woes, not Wall Street. These people need to get lives, go back to your job if you have one — stop being a public nuisance. Or move to Europe if you hate capitalism so much. What do you expect is going to happen, bankers are going to come out of their offices & give write you a check? It makes no sense, there is no end-game. The civil rights movement, got that, makes sense. Anti-Vietnam protests, got that, made sense. The tea party (even though I’m sure people who read this post hate them) makes sense, less govt intrusion, lower taxes. These LOSERS have no message — hate people who make more money than you?? If you want taxes raised go protest the government, not hard working people, most of whom work 70+ hours a week, work their tails off to get where they are. OWS freaks need to put their energy into something productive, this is ridiculous already and to brain wash your children into this insanity is reprehensible.

  4. Ah, looking at the joy in the faces in that photo tells me that anyone who thinks this was “abuse,” or even a bad idea needs to calm down.

    I don’t agree with, or even “get” OWS.

    HOWEVER, I applaud these parents for bringing their kids to it. I’m sure they will always look back at it fondly at their family fun, but most of all, and despite assumptions about whether they are in the 1% or 99%, the kids will know that there are others with less.

    And that by making one’s voice heard (even by spending the night in a park), they may make a difference!

    We need more parents like this!!!

  5. What difference are they going to make, please enlighten me??!!! We need more parents like this, are you for real? Teach your kids to resent people who make more money than you, rather than instill a strong work ethic and a belief that if you work hard enough you can achieve whatever you want. No, sit out overnight in a park like a loser ranting because people on Wall Street make too much money. Why stop there, why don’t they go sit outside the homes of big Hollywood actors who command millions per movie? What are they teaching them exactly? Volunteer in a soup kitchen for christ’s sake.

  6. I’m both mystified and disturbed by this celebration of inanity. I re-read the piece and clicked on the name of one of our local attendees that linked to his blog. What I read there went a long way toward giving me some insight into the mindset of someone who celebrates revolution for it’s own sake, seemingly embraces communism, and yet earns a living teaching marketing at NYU. Enjoy:

    “I shared a lot of revolutionary political zeal with a mix of rebel types. White Panthers in the Haight, RCPers (Revolutionary Communist Party) in Berkeley, Theory misfits @ CCSF even some very cautious and quietly scary IRA gun-runners in the Mission.

    In retrospect, I can see now that I was shaping (and shattering) my social and political self by pushing as hard as I could against whatever norms or constructs I could swing a bat at. I was smitten with revolution for the sheer crackling sound it made and the thick visceral rush of it all. I wouldn’t trade away those days of callow posturing, glib tirades and angry marches, protests, fights and late nite rants for all the bonuses @ Goldman and JP Morgan combined last winter.”

    I suppose that anyone whose political philosophy was to rail against any and all social constructs wouldn’t be the most logical candidate for the executive suite, but it’s nice that he can teach marketing. Yikes.

  7. You know, there are plenty of people who have jobs, work their booties off, and still support this movement. I think we all know that every protest has its own share of “loser ranting,” but your generalization of the movement is way off, CMEinmontclair.

    I certainly do not resent people who make more than me. I’d have to resent all of you, but I don’t. I love all of you and your little avatars!

    If I were a parent, I’d find the accusation of “borderline child abuse” incredibly offensive. From the way you seem to easily pass judgement and vitriol on others, you probably do not care, but imagine if someone accused you of that for exposing your child to something they disagreed with – even after investigating the safety of its environment.

  8. Revolution as tourism.

    It’s like the solar panel lamp posts. It doesn’t really matter if they cost more, or are actually the best way to improve the environment, they LOOK like they are, so that’s good enough.

  9. Child abuse? You may not agree with the sentiments being expressed by the group, but this is in no way child abuse. I’m in agreement with the overall idea that income inequality is an issue and needs to addressed and it’s not because I resent the 1% who earn more than I do.

  10. Jenn you failed to answer any of my questions — what exactly are they teaching their kids? What is the point of this protest? What is the end game? As I said before, enlighten me. Everything I have heard is a rant against capitalism and envy over people who make a lot of money. If the government takes more in taxes it’s not going to do one thing to change the OWS protestors lot in life. The government will just continue to waste and squander money. What ever happened to all those “shovel ready jobs”?? I am still waiting for answers.

  11. “I’m in agreement with the overall idea that income inequality is an issue and needs to addressed and it’s not because I resent the 1% who earn more than I do.”

    She just wants a cut.

  12. I’m not offended by CME’s reductive “child abuse” statement. There are more important things in the world to be offended by…

    BUT, the comment, in context with the picture is my point. Anyone who has seen the horror of child abuse will look at this pix and think: if all child abuse in the world were like this, with those smiling faces, the world would be a better place.

    And what are they learning? Simple: that there are issues, moments and movements that sometimes one has to do something other than just sit home a be “mad” at. And sometimes, one must go and stand (or sleep) with those whose struggle (however undefined) we identify with.

    But by your logic, one should only protest what?

    As I listened to Brian Lerher interview someone about the new King monument, I thought, just why did folks March on Washington? What was the point? To make a scene and let those in power know that “the people” support an idea. That’s all. Folks were fed up, felt powerless and this was the way to show it.

    Or what about those smaller civil rights protest that weren’t attended by thousands. Think of the early days of the Greensboro sit-ins.

    Not to compare OWS to the Civil Right Movement- as I’ve stated, I don’t agree with them- BUT to not see how similar OWS is to the Tea Party (without, so far, the running and winning elections), and to every other social movement.

  13. Well said, Prof.

    I haven’t been to the protests, so my interpretation of the movement may be very different from the others that have actually spent days or weeks there. There’s really little point in me trying to “enlighten” anyone, as I myself have yet to be completely enlightened.

    My protest here is the unfair judgement passed onto the entire OWS protesters, and the odd expectation you have of me to “answer” all of your questions because I disagreed with your dramatic response to this post.

  14. (Um, “you” meaning “one,” or “you” meaning prof? I’m assuming your “you,” refers to CME, not me. But you wrote, “you” after addressing me directly, so I’m confused.)

  15. “Or move to Europe if you hate capitalism so much.”

    Privatized profit with socialized risk (or other negative externalities) isn’t really “capitalism”, though it is similar what China calls its system of “state capitalism”.


  16. There is no comparison to these people camped out in NYC to those who protested for civil rights, or the tea party — is it really that difficult for anyone to just state what they are protesting?? Income inequality??? WHAT? That is the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard. Let the market decide your worth. Why then, aren’t they protesting Hollywood? The reason no one can answer these questions, is because they are logical..and these people are not logical.

    They feel slighted — like I said, they should focus on either protesting the government for dire economic times because that’s where the blame lies. Don’t begrudge people who have done well in this society — I applaud them and hope one day I too can better myself financially. Are all CEOs evil and corrupt? No. Do you think these protestors would be willing to 1) work 70+ hours a week 2) travel and be away from their families if the job called for it 3)take crap from demanding bosses and be treated at times like they are meaningless 4) go to night or weekend school to better themselves, sacrificing time with their family 5) do the work to procure investment/capital and take all the risk if deals fall through. Well, that’s a quick synopsis of most people I know who work on wall street — not money hungry thieves only interested in lining their pockets. They worked their way to where they are — HARD WORK. And I find it offensive this crap about “income inequality” This isn’t Jones Town. We’re not in a communistic society last time I checked — that’s what made this country great. These protestors need to pack up and leave and take a hard look in the mirror — don’t demonize people who represent something you can’t attain. They are hard working people who contribute greatly to this society. You cannot say that about losers sleeping in the streets for weeks on end protesting some imagined cause.

  17. There are plenty of occupations that require a lot of work. Some of them are profoundly remunerative. But the relative contributions of those occupations to this society aren’t necessarily correlated to the amount of money one can make doing them.

    It’s fallacious to equate financial success with social worth. Plenty of people throughout history have gotten very, very wealthy by doing things that are detrimental to their fellow man. One could definitely argue that the sophisticated derivatives and other algorithmic financial products have, on balance, done much more harm than good to society as a whole.

  18. CME, you just moved the goal post. This story is about a family going to OWS. YOU then called it out as “child abuse.” Some of us then didn’t see how this could be considered abuse in anyway.

    You chose to defend your statement.

    Now though, you’re speaking directly to the WHY and what OWS exists. For that, I agree with you.

    My point remains: these families did something worthwhile in going to NYC to see and be a part of this protest. And since neither you, nor I know anything about them, it’s best to take them at their word: they went to show support to the movement– as loosely defined as it is.

    How can that be bad?

    (As for what OWS wants, beats me. So what? Does every social movement have to have a clearly defined mission?)

  19. Financial derivatives, when properly employed, and properly accounted for, are also profoundly useful. We live in a fractional reserve society: that is, absent the gold standard or some equivalent, our monetary systems are leveraged and rely upon the faith that society has in our financial institutions. Derivatives are instruments of leverage, not the work of the devil, but they must be employed with appropriate caution. However in vogue, it is simplistic to say that derivatives are more harmful than useful. Yes, as credit markets topped out and began to reverse themselves, financial institutions employed CDS and other derivatives to offset risks. Speculators also used derivatives to make directional bets on the market. It is important to note that most market participants are not clairvoyants, markets are not “rigged,” risk is real and is expressed in the premium of the instrument one buys for protection. It’s kind of like a car insurance company would price your coverage if you had a clean record, or regularly drove drunk and crashed your car. Without meaning to interject a non-sequitur, but given this analogy, there is no way that the insurance company can predict future behavior, one’s premium is based upon one’s historical record, and the extrapolation of future performance based upon it.

    Markets simply do not exist if everyone shares the exact same views regarding the value and future performance of an asset. Every financial transaction needs to have both a buyer and a seller of risk. The party that looks to “buy protection” via credit a credit default swap, or a put option must have a counter-party that has agreed to the value of assuming that risk. Every transaction occurs at a mutually agreed upon price. If the parties can’t agree, there is no transaction. There will always be apparent winners and losers, but an outside observer will never know whether they are “net” winners or losers since so many trades are entered into to offset existing risk positions.

    Basically, how can you condemn a bank for being stingy with credit, while simultaneously vilifying it for offsetting the risk of lending? To do so employ a childish view of the financial markets that views borrowers as always noble in their intentions and lenders as somehow deserving of loss owing to their superior financial strength.

    Now, some people did some bad things, and they deserve to be punished.

  20. Wall Street’s Response:

    “We are Wall Street. It’s our job to make money. Whether it’s a commodity, stock, bond, or some hypothetical piece of fake paper, it doesn’t matter. We would trade baseball cards if it were profitable. I didn’t hear America complaining when the market was roaring to 14,000 and everyone’s 401k doubled every 3 years. Just like gambling, its not a problem until you lose. I’ve never heard of anyone going to Gamblers Anonymous because they won too much in Vegas.

    Well now the market crapped out, & even though it has come back somewhat, the government and the average Joes are still looking for a scapegoat. God knows there has to be one for everything. Well, here we are.

    Go ahead and continue to take us down, but you’re only going to hurt yourselves. What’s going to happen when we can’t find jobs on the Street anymore? Guess what: We’re going to take yours. We get up at 5am & work till 10pm or later. We’re used to not getting up to pee when we have a position. We don’t take an hour or more for a lunch break. We don’t demand a union. We don’t retire at 50 with a pension. We eat what we kill, and when the only thing left to eat is on your dinner plates, we’ll eat that.

    For years teachers and other unionized labor have had us fooled. We were too busy working to notice. Do you really think that we are incapable of teaching 3rd graders and doing landscaping? We’re going to take your cushy jobs with tenure and 4 months off a year and whine just like you that we are so-o-o-o underpaid for building the youth of America. Say goodbye to your overtime and double time and a half. I’ll be hitting grounders to the high school baseball team for $5k extra a summer, thank you very much.

    So now that we’re going to be making $85k a year without upside, Joe Mainstreet is going to have his revenge, right? Wrong! Guess what: we’re going to stop buying the new 80k car, we aren’t going to leave the 35 percent tip at our business dinners anymore. No more free rides on our backs. We’re going to landscape our own back yards, wash our cars with a garden hose in our driveways. Our money was your money. You spent it. When our money dries up, so does yours.

    The difference is, you lived off of it, we rejoiced in it. The Obama administration and the Democratic National Committee might get their way and knock us off the top of the pyramid, but it’s really going to hurt like hell for them when our fat a**es land directly on the middle class of America and knock them to the bottom.

    We aren’t dinosaurs. We are smarter and more vicious than that, and we are going to survive. The question is, now that Obama & his administration are making Joe Mainstreet our food supply…will he? and will they?”

  21. What a fat, steaming pile of excrement that ‘response’ is, deadeye.

    It’s not as though the regulations on the table (or even hinted at) would somehow cause the entire house of high finance to come crashing down. Is your business, and by extension all you he-men making a living within it, so fragile as to be “take[n] down” by a limited menu of relatively benign restrictions on some of your industry’s most damaging behaviors? If so, then every word of your “response” above is nothing but empty, pathetic bluster.

    High finance will likely be with us as long as humans maintain any semblance of civilization. There will always be jobs to be had in that line of work, and they’ll always pay extremely well. But that doesn’t mean that you and your peers get the run of the frackin’ house without any sort of accountability.

    And no, I actually don’t think you could do other people’s jobs just like that. Just as they couldn’t simply waltz into your workplace and take your job.

    You’re neither as smart nor as important as you think you are, and other people aren’t as dumb or as insignificant as you clearly believe they are.

  22. The crux of deadeye’s argument is right on — taking down bankers or wall street ‘fat cats’ isn’t going to make the man on Main Street any better off,only worse. Who services those cars Mr. Fat Cat buys, who books his trips, owns the restaurants he frequents and serves his meals, who cleans his mansions, does renovations on his house..the list goes on and on. The beauty of this country is that if you have a dream, a strong work ethic, drive and determination you can become WHATEVER YOU WANT. The people at OWS if they got their way, would completely kill that incentive,that drive — and that disgusts me.

    And when I say “child abuse” I do think it’s incredibly selfish and abusive to try and brainwash your child into some thwarted view of society, and to drag them out to a park overnight where safety is definitely in question. And the bottom line is, there is NO true point to this ‘protest’ — did you see the video of the protestors in Chase Bank?? These people are insane, bottom line. When you listen to them being interviewed they frankly, sound really dumb. There is no other way to put it. And I say it again because no one addresses it, but if it’s income inequality, why aren’t they protesting Hollywood??? Why should actors make MILLIONS for making movies?? Take your signs and your tents and head to Hollywood (don’t forget the kids).

  23. CME….Just by using the term “Losers” shows just how out of touch you are with mainstream America.
    And Deadeye….get a real job. Paper shuffling is taking it’s toll….Hollywood’s calling you both.

  24. CME and deadeye: Here are three core goals of the OWS:

    1.) PUBLIC FINANCING OF ELECTIONS. “Implementing an immediate ban on all private contributions of money and gifts, to all politicians in federal office, from individuals, corporations, “political action committees,” “super political action committees,” lobbyists, unions and all other private sources of money or thing of value to be replaced by the fair, equal and total public financing of all federal political campaigns. ”

    2.) OVERTURNING OF THE ‘CITIZENS UNITED’ RULING BY CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. “The immediate abrogation, even if it requires a Constitutional Amendment, of the outrageous and anti-democratic holding in the “Citizens United” case proclaimed by the United States Supreme Court. This heinous decision equates the payment of money by corporations, wealthy individuals and unions to politicians with the exercise of protected free speech. We, the People, demand that this institutional bribery and corruption never again be deemed protected free speech.”

    3.) BAN ON QUID PRO QUO ARRANGEMENTS IN GOVERNMENT. “Prohibiting all federal public employees, officers, officials or their immediate family members from ever being employed or rewarded by any corporation, individual or business that they specifically regulated while in office.”

    These are the first three goals of the movement, as expressed by the OWS working group in the “99% declaration”. There’s nothing incoherent or difficult to understand in this series of statements. You may not agree with these stances, but they’re not incoherent. And I don’t see anything here that is somehow ‘anti-capitalist’. Anti-corporatist, maybe. But that shouldn’t be a problem for any real capitalist / entrepreneur.

  25. Ok WillJames you just made my point — how can any of these things be achieved?? Can anyone on Wall Street implement or address these concerns — and just for the record, I haven’t seen one protestor carrying a sign alluding to any of these things. But let’s say these are their grievances — why the hell aren’t they camped out in front of Congress or the White House?? Storming into banks, blocking traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge which resulted in 700 arrests. Oh boy, they really made an important, resounding point!!! Give me a break — these people are 60s want-to-be’s. Their energies are sadly misguided, and back to the point, I think the stability of any parent who brings an 8 year old (as in the picture above) down there to spend the night should be questioned.

  26. The Parents. those self described “children of the 60’s, were somewhere between infants and middle schoolers during the period, if they were even born during the decade, therefore their “memories” can only be the idealistic constructs of a fertile imagination. Then there was the fellow, somewhat longer in the tooth, that waxed nostalgic about his bygone days of raging against basically everything viewed as part of established society, but that’s more suggestive of a mental disorder; furthermore, his antics took place in the MID-70’s by which time the Vietnam war was over and the original hippies had by and large drifted off to complete their degrees and start their families, leaving the husk of their movement to the political dilettantes, such as our blogger, to carry on. Oh what wretched luck not having been born early enough to participate in the real movement, but rather a warmed over facsimile, and then serve up those memories to one’s children as though you were actually there, instead of hanging out with the adversely selected group after the parade had long gone by. But hey, now you’ve got your shot, OWS. The moment you’ve been waiting for all of these years. Time to stick it to the man. Protest first, ask questions later…

  27. Corporatocracy ≠ Capitalism.
    Corruption ≠ Competition.
    Private Lobbying ≠ Democracy.
    Reform ≠ Class Warfare.

    If you find yourself feeling threatened by peaceful displays of Democracy, by families and KIDS – you might want to consider asking yourself why.

    OWS is a platform for Democratic expression – so opinions vary widely, just as they do here. Granted, some there might make assumptions about the “suits” that work in finance – just as some here mistakenly make assumptions about the “losers” that choose to protest.

    This is not about your job, your lifestyle, or how much you might make.

    For me (what would inspire me to protest), this is about recognizing/auditing/correcting the corruption and collusion of the Fed with the TBTF/SIFIs; taking $3 TRILLION of OUR money in order to protect their leveraged holdings, while socializing the losses.

    This is the antithesis of a Free Market.

    This is a direct threat to capitalism and to the health of Our Nation.
    Any person who values their future (in finance) should be concerned – unless they have something better to gain.

    “Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City President Thomas Hoenig, who warns that the nation’s biggest banks are putting the U.S. capitalist society at risk”

    “Capitalism didn’t die in 2008.  That’s a convenient story, but it isn’t true.  You can’t expropriate a broke man or a broke business; there’s nothing to take, even if you want to. 
    The truth is much simpler: The taxpayer was just plain robbed by the government and banks acting together.”

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