'Occupy Wall Street' Parents Are Taking Kids to Sleep in the Streets

Parents for Occupy Wall StreetWhen Kirby Desmarais started talking about taking her daughter down to the Occupy Wall Street protests on her blog, the chatter got so quiet, you could have heard a pin drop. A small business owner and mom who blogs at Baby G!, Desmarais is the woman behind Parents for Occupy Wall Street, a smaller subset of the movement that took New York's Financial District by storm last month. After their first official gathering this week in Zuccotti Park, Desmarais is putting the finishing touches on plans for a giant Family Sleep Over right in the heart of the action this Friday night in NYC.

And yes, she'll have 18-month-old daughter Georgiah right there with her. That's what seems to have shocked the blog community into silence, Desmarais told The Stir.


"Everyone is scared of this," she said. "I was getting really frustrated with the media spin that it was just drug addicts and homeless people down there because it's not!"

Parents for Occupy Wall Street was her way of shifting the perception. Desmarais has a home in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn and both she and her husband have jobs. And yet, she first headed out to support the cause out of her own frustration.

"I'm a small business owner, supposedly living the American dream, and yet we're paying over $1,000 a month out of pocket for health insurance," she says. To top that off, she's found employment taxes so prohibitive, growing her business has become almost impossible. To add an employee means paying taxes that the small business can't afford. "I can't grow my business without hiring people, and I can't hire people without growing my business! It's a catch-22."

The Stir has run into other moms at the protests, but Parents for Occupy Wall Street is a means to bring them all together in one place. The chief reason? Safety and comfort. The Columbus Day event afforded parents a cordoned off area where their kids could play, and they could heave a sigh of relief at not having to make their way through the hustle and bustle with a stroller. Friday night's sleepover will give them security, with no one not associated with the parents' movement allowed in, ID checks to ensure no child leaves with someone who isn't their parent/guardian, and security parents walking around to keep the kids in and any riffraff out.

Their corner of the rally will help show the world there's more to the protest than the spin that seems to have scared the mom bloggers on Baby G! "We're bringing [the kids] down to bring awareness that the middle class is down there," Desmarais explained. "My daughter isn't going to remember being there, sure she'll have pictures, and it does help the children because it's their future, but it's more about awareness."

Coming off the positive vibes of Monday's event, Desmarais says she hopes the kids will also serve to re-invigorate the people who have been working this rally since September. "It had a magical energy," she said of the first event. "Everybody kind of calmed down around us. They were reacting to the kids, and that's what this protest needs to keep it non-violent. I think [the kids] really give people a purpose ... what you're doing is that much MORE worthwhile."

Looking into the eyes of the future, you can't help but be caught up in the movement that's trying to affect change in a peaceful, positive way, Desmarais says. This is why she's bringing her toddler to Occupy Wall Street ... how about you?

To learn more about the Sleep Over that begins this Friday, October 14, at 4 p.m. and runs until 11 a.m. (rain date is next Friday, October 21, same hours), hit up the Parents for Occupy Wall Street site. They're looking for parent volunteers or you can just take part.


Image via Kirby Desmarais

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