UPDATE: The family sleepover at Zuccotti Park organized by “Parents for Occupy Wall Street” has been rescheduled for tonight from 4 p.m. until Saturday morning at 11 a.m. It was postponed from its original date, last Friday, because of the NYPD’s plans to clear the park for cleaning. The cleaning was canceled.
An email sent by Occupy Wall Street spokesman Patrick Bruner said that there will be an hourly headcount of children who are there and parents will need to present I.D. and wear identifying t-shirts while working shifts around the hour.
“With the Family Sleepover, Parents for Occupy Wall Street are Occupying to speak up for the ones without a voice and make real change, change for their children’s futures,” said the release.
When the Occupy Wall Street movement began, it was largely comprised of college-aged people. But over the past month the protest has grown, as people of all ages join the marches and demonstrations — and now, children are getting into the act.
The group “Parents for Occupy Wall Street” is calling on families to spend the night camped out with protesters at Zuccotti Park on October 14.
Kirby Desmarais says she launched ParentsforOccupyWallSt.com over the weekend after visiting the protest with her own baby, and noticing that there was no designated spot for children at the camp. The website describes Parents for Occupy Wall Street as a collective community for families who support the movement.
“It’s more about letting parents know it’s safe and they can come,” said Desmarais. “Parents should be the loudest voice. It’s our children’s futures we need to stand up for here. The change will affect them more than us.”
Desmarais said volunteers with Occupy Wall Street have set up a safe barricaded place for children inside Zuccotti Park. She said about 300 to 500 children passed through today, many spending time in the designated area where they played with toys and did arts and crafts.
The movement is encouraging families to stay in Zuccotti Park from 4 p.m. on October 14 to 11 a.m. on October 15. The site reminds parents to bring safe, warm sleeping supplies for their children, like strollers, blankets and carriers.
When asked whether the protest might be too chaotic of an environment for a child, Desmarais responded, “Have you ever lived with a toddler?”
She said children are high-energy beings themselves, but, amazingly, they had a soothing effect on the protesters who passed by and watched them nap.
“It was an awe moment and the children kind of calm everybody down around them,” said Desmarais. “It’s really magical to see.”
Desmarais with her daughter