Sunday, March 18, 2012

M17 Chalkupation and March

We did a lot of positive outreach early on. ProtestKid and I arrived a little before 11 and checked in with the medics because we love them in general and because I wanted them to know there were now kids in the park.

(The medics are universally lovely. One of them turned out to be a contact juggler and we had a little swoon about Michael Moschen. Labyrinth was a gateway drug for him, too.)

I drew a hopscotch board with "$" symbols on a couple of squares because one of the 4 people who got arrested for chalk- drawing last week had been making a hopscotch board. (It turned out one of the other 4 got arrested for watching them draw and not stopping them. Er?)

ProtestKid got down to business. In school, they've been writing persuasive letters, so he decided to write a persuasive letter to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. The text of the letter, in case it's hard to read, was, "Dear Ray Kelly, You shouldn't be taking orders so seriously."

Later, he made his first political cartoon. (That's a 1%er saying, "I love money and nothing else.")

Once other kids arrived, and the grownups started drawing, things got beautiful.

But pardon if I am partial to my own kid's work.

I held the Parents for Occupy Wall Street banner for at least half an hour, and got interviewed by a couple of young people. A parent of teenagers who lives two blocks away from the park talked with us about how much his building supports OWS-- only one resident was anti-Occupation. "I'm frightened of her," he added.

ProtestKid got interviewed 3-4 times; some documentarians (with Common Dreams? a website something like that...) thought he was fantastic and interviewed him twice. He also helped S sell her girl scout cookies. One grandfather told me that he asked ProtestKid if he could use his chalk, who said, "Sure! But the cookies are $4." S sold a box to a white shirt police officer. I wonder what he paid? (Regular price is $4, but they were asking for an extra $1 to go to OWS.)

We juggled, we drew, we talked a lot. I had forgotten how tiring it is to be the center of so much attention, if that makes sense? Between the cops and private security videoing everything and the citizen journalists anxious to get a cute kid pic, we were a little overwhelmed.

Occupiers remained generous-- bringing us cookies, extra chalk, and some poster board and thick markers to make signs. ProtestKid wrote, "The protesters are including you, police. They are inclusive." ...He spelled that himself. I am a little in awe of my kid, sometimes. I don't think I knew what inclusive meant when I was 7...

Later, at McDonalds, a group of touring teenagers asked me about ProtestKid's sign (I was holding it while he was in the bathroom). One of them asked me what it was like out there and I said, "Cold"... and she said something polite and I said "Thank you" and her eyes got big and she said more quietly, "No, thank you"...And a young man looked over his shoulder, smiled shyly, and gave me a thumb's up.

During the march, passersby were either positive or indifferent. (We shouted "The whole bus is watching!" when the tourist bus drove past.) At one point when we were crossing the road, a herd of scooter-cops tried to run us over. That was frightening. ProtestKid was on the other side of them and oblivious, happily playing with his yellow balloon and trying to pet protest dogs. I grabbed the elbow of an older gentleman a little ahead of me (I think he was a veteran for peace, actually) and soft blocked our way across.

ProtestKid had his yellow balloon, he was obviously a kid, but the scooter-cop just smiled and jerked forward right in front of us.

Soon after that, ProtestKid announced that he was tired of marching, and I promised him we would duck into the next subway stop we saw-- it happened to be just outside Liberty, so I was very familiar with it, anyway.

Judging from twitter, we left just in time. 5-10 minutes later the cops started to arrest people for dancing on the sidewalk. :(

Dance for Democracy. Draw for Democracy. Debate for Democracy.

Please don't fuck us over for fascism.

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