So much of the mainstream media's coverage of the Occupy Wall Street protest movement has been skewered toward casting the protesters as a bunch of crazy, unshowered hippies who don't want to get a job. But if these reporters actually went down there and talked to the Wall Street protesters, they'd be shocked to see that most of them look just like you and me -- ordinary people with ordinary jobs and ordinary lives who are just trying to get through one day at a time and make the world a better place along the way.
One group that was particularly well-represented at the OWS march and rally on Wednesday was: parents -- specifically, moms who brought their children with them to the protest. Why are they protesting? They explained it way better than I ever could.
Let's take a look:
This is Kim, from New York, with her adorable 3-month-old daughter, explaining what brought her out to the protest:
Just in general sense that things are getting worse -- especially for the 99 percent -- in terms of growing income equality, fewer opportunities, and more expensive opportunities like education. I was able to pay for college and not have too much debt, but that's not possible now for my daughter. I feel there's a lot of greed and the wrong people have the wrong influence.
Hmmm ... that doesn't sound so crazy, does it? In fact, I bet a lot of parents could empathize with her fears for her child.
This is Lisa, also from New York, who brought her two children (one being Simon, here, the very excellent sharer) out to the protest because:
I wanted to speak out for a brighter vision for our future. I'm taking a stand for things I believe in. I'm here because I want a clear future for my children, I want them to be able to be educated, and breathe the air, and support themselves.
Is it just me, or are her demands for her kids (education and clean air) entirely reasonable?
These two moms in the top photo, Jean and Bettina, were some of the most inspirational people I talked to all day. Bettina teared up telling me she had been laid off twice in the last year and how it had been rough on her family. She and Jean -- they each brought their two kids -- came out specifically to protest budget cuts in public schools:
We're worried about a lot of things, but one of the main things is all the budget cuts to the schools in the city. We feel like here are bailing out the banks and not raising taxes for the richest 1 percent of the population ... while this year there's 30 kids in their class and we had to bring in all our own supplies and the budget cuts haven't even started yet. We're really pissed off.
After hearing their stories, suddenly the popular OWS chant, "People Not Profits," took on a whole new meaning.
I don't have a photo for the last one. Nicole came all the way from Pennsylvania with her young son Finn for their own personal protest. Their home was currently foreclosed, and she said, crying, that she was there to demand a further investigation into the way banks mishandled the housing market, especially because she felt her money (and other people's, too) had been stolen. What she shared was so raw, emotional, and personal -- too personal to snap a photo.
Images via Kim Conte