Ilya Marritz covers business for WNYC.
School Holiday Means Family Day at Occupy Wall Street
Monday, October 10, 2011
The Occupy Wall Street protests show no sign of letting up. In fact, the warm weather and a school holiday drew some new people to the protests — a large numbers of teachers, parents and kids were at Zuccotti Park on Monday.
Moms and dads formed a protective circle around about fifty middle schoolers, as activist and writer Kevin Powell led the kids in a call-and-response exercise.
Take the 99 Percent School, a one-week-old group founded by parents at Central Park East Elementary School.
Jeannie Lee, a mother of two boys and an organizer of the event, said she wanted to bring kids to Occupy Wall Street because they make natural activists. "They have no filters, and they can look at something and say, well that's not fair!"
About a week ago, Lee and three other parents joined forces to form The 99 Percent School, an informal group that seeks to include kids in the protests.
But not everyone sees kids' participation as a good thing.
Christopher Guerra was manning an information desk as the young people were arriving.
"It's like brainwashing," Guerra said.
All day long, the adults banged on drums and chanted slogans, surrounded by mattresses and backpacks. For one observant nine year old, Oowa Salaam of Brooklyn, it was bewildering.
"First I went inside and saw all the sleeping bags, and I said, 'What are those for?' And my mom said, 'People are sleeping here to protest at night too,'" Salaam said.
Later, she saw a man on the ground, seemingly unconscious.
"And the ambulance came and they got him up and he was like, he was literally completely knocked out and he had blood all over his back. Something happened to him," she added.
What happened, and why? She doesn't know and WNYC could not get details.
But it's an image that may remain for a long time in the mind of one young person.