Saturday, November 10, 2012


I've been nervous about posting actions I take and thoughts that I have, ever since I watched someone's blog post be used as evidence against them in a court of law.


Taking action in the aftermath of Sandy is not (yet) illegal, and I need to write to process it for myself.

The first few days I was in shock and struggling with flu and two bored kids out of school. But by Saturday I had a big pile of dry goods I had purged from my own emergency stores that I needed to donate, like a bulk-goods island in the middle of my living room. I rationalized the total devastation of our pantry by saying that it was an emergency, just because it wasn't *my* emergency didn't mean that the gallons of water and multipacks of batteries weren't being used in the exact way they were intended when I first bought them.

One friend took a few lightweight items away that Saturday afternoon; he's a runner and while he hadn't planned on running the marathon this year, he had decided to run across (and up and down flights of stairs in) Staten Island to bring supplies to those in greatest need.

Sunday, a friend with a half-filled SUV filled up the rest of it with my donations for a local drop off point. There were several in our neighborhood, she wasn't even sure which one she would end up at-- just compelled, as I was, to gather and to give, as quickly and efficiently as possible.

That donation satisfied me for about 48 hours. Watching Twitter and Facebook and my more flexible/less physically limited friends helping out brought the itch back, though. I started pursuing other venues: Thursday I cooked up 3 gallons of split pea soup, chock full of barley and vegetables, and donated it to the Astoria Cooks for the Rockaways project a local woman started. I had disposable trays because of my earlier experiences cooking for OWS, and even gave tips to a drinking buddy who was worried she didn't have enough pasta, on how to bulk her dish up with vegetables.

The next morning a very dear friend took her shepherd's pie and my soup (and LittleMan and me!) to the hot food drop-off location. I actually met one of my new neighbors there (we moved at the end of September. Another reason this blog has been quiet), and suddenly I felt tied into the community in a way I hadn't before. The street was full of double parked cars and women with trays and boxes and bags, trying to help out our larger Queens' community. Some were strangers, but most were women whose kids went to school with my kids, who were friends of friends, who I had nodded politely to before when our strollers passed on the sidewalk. My casual community, suddenly connected on a deeper level... for a higher purpose. It made my heart go up and down a little.

Friday afternoon, ProtestKid and I stood outside our local grocery store with other members of his scouting group (Navigators Chapter 13) asking for food and money donations. I don't know yet how much we gathered (a mayonnaise jar's worth of cash and coins, two cardboard boxes full of non-perishables), but it felt meaningful even if it was only one hour.

A lot of people stopped to chat; one woman paused after her donation and said she really understood, she had lost everything in an earthquake in her home country. Others apologized that they didn't have any money on them, but we pointed out there would be more opportunities to give later. It's not like the aching need is going away any time soon.

But the most meaningful interaction for me was with a friend-- lots of friends passed by, actually, as we were in a great location just off the last train station on the N line-- but she hugged me and said, "Thank you for everything you're doing." It turns out this is not just a good but distant cause for her, as Katrina was for us. Her mother lived in the Rockaways; she lost her home and is now living with them. Her mother is devastated, her community is devastated. Her community is changed; she will never be the same.

This isn't a platitude or a homily or a Hallmark card. Structures broken, networks torn, there aren't enough metaphors to describe the feeling of loss when you lose everything... Houses, yes, but routine and comfort and the people you nod to when you walk down the street.

When you lose everything that defined your place in the world, because that place is gone.

Today I went out in the backyard barefoot, to feel my new garden's potential between my cold toes and plant daffodils that my favorite flower company sent me free, as a gift to all their customers affected by Sandy. I caught my neighbor also out for a quiet moment, and I thanked him for sweeping the snow off our stairs after the nor'easter.

He shrugged, "That's what neighbors do," he said. Then caught himself, "It's what I was brought up to do." I gave him one of the two daffodil bulbs I had left, and he ran inside and gave me a bottle of home-pressed wine, from the yellow grapes he grows at the end of his yard.

Then I had to run inside, and give him a small jar of raspberry gin that I brewed earlier this year.

Glowing with gifts and good neighbors, I went inside. I've been happy all day, despite my kids having their first sleepover last night. (They were up until 11 pm. And then again at 3 am. And 4. And 6. Twitch.) We love them and their parents, though, so we didn't harm anyone. For the record.

I keep thinking about community--  my garden community, the Astoria community, the Sandy-affected community... even the parents of unslumber party participants community. (You know who you are.)

I am learning a lot about what community means, and it is hard watching some powerful people and organizations turn their backs on huge swathes of what should be their community, too.

But I am deeply affected-- even changed-- by the realization that my neighbors are part of my community. As someone who has felt isolated in one way or another for most of my life, Occupy Wall Street was a validation that strangers across the country- the world-- were interested in joining me in a loving, healthy community with a capital C.

Occupy Sandy is a wondrous discovery that, shaken by events or just delighted by the opportunity, my neighbors and acquaintances, friends and bosom buddies, also want to participate, to share gifts of love and moments of sweet communion with me.

We are a community, we are sharing the love and the pain and I know that this moment cannot be sustained, living in the light takes more effort than most of us can spare-- but I am grateful that I can participate in this pain-wracked, dark and bright and ethereal and real moment.

I hope that the dramatic changes we all are living through can make true neighbors of us all.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sandy and Storm: How to help

I've been posting and re-posting on my Facebook wall. Going to make it more simple by putting everything I know here:

(Edited to add: Occupy Sandy Relief NYC just posted a big shout-out to their partnering organizations. Have added the ones I didn't already list)


Occupy Sandy
This is most useful for people who want to/can physically help, whether that's making peanut butter sandwiches or helping pull out damaged carpets

Just added: "Do you want to help with but can't make it in person? We need researchers! Email"

I've either heard good things about these orgs from Occupy ppl I trust, or I've used them myself. ;)

Astoria Recovers (Queens)
This is a clearinghouse for local volunteers, donations and news specific to my/our neighborhood. (It has some info in multiple languages. Woot!)

Red Hook Initiative (Brooklyn)

Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (Brooklyn)

"pan-Asian community-based org"
(Sorry, the others' names were self-explanatory, but this one wasn't... They've been helping especially in the Lower East Side of Manhattan)

Good Old Lower East Side

Rockaway Youth Task Force

Restore Red Hook

Coney Island Generation Gap

596 Acres

Time’s UP!
NY Communities for Change

The Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew in Brooklyn

Crossroads Church in Staten Island

Saint Jacobi Church in Brooklyn
They're running a soup kitchen, according to Facebook 


I think all of the above orgs accept donations, but you can also donate through:

Occupy Sandy Wedding Registry
This is awesome, verified, and getting a lot of (local) media attention. Donations are delivered to a church in Brooklyn, but are being passed on through the community from there.

Occupy Sandy New Jersey
These guys also appear legit and organized, and NJ got badly hit, too. (Hoboken and Atlantic City in particular)

Firedoglake Blanket Drive
They were involved in "Occupy Supply" to get warm winter clothing to Occupiers across the country last year. Using those contacts and bulk purchasing power, they are focusing on getting blankets to cold people. All the blankets are American made, and some of them are also union made.

Coney Island Donation Site
Friend on Facebook posted this.


He is a livestreamer and weather geek (in the best possible way) and he has been great at getting word out about the storm before, during and after

Penny Red's Collection of Useful Articles
Hasn't been updated lately, but lots of early eye witness accounts.

Occuprint's Bulletin
Useful info for folks affected (or in prep for next hundred year storm); encouraged to print out and pass out

New York Legal Assistance Group
 Are helping people with FEMA paperwork, etc.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

All You Need is Occupy

This morning when the kids announced they were bored I told them to design a game. (They had been watching Tabletop over my shoulder yesterday, and thought it was hilarious. "Harpies! Shrieking Geeks!" ProtestKid yelled. "Can I be a shrieking geek?"... "No," we said, because we are the meanest parents ever...)

I was surprised when they dismissed Star Wars, Robots and Fairies as suitable game topics. "Occupy?" I hazarded... "Yes!"

LittleMan scavenged the dice from another game, ProtestKid got out the colored pencils.

The game design started, of course, at the Start. Liberty Square? Tunisia? Who knows what the start truly was... ;)

Jail, Feed the Poor, and Narrow Escape soon followed. The "safe area", with its yellow balloons, is particularly sweet.(Edited to add: and now, Kettling Nets! Move back two spaces!)

But I think my favorite squares are the "March" squares: a friend can move from anywhere-- including jail-- to join you in the march. (The other way to escape imprisonment is if a friend passes you while you are stuck in jail. Then you go forward one space to "narrow escape". Still working on refining it... maybe you can call the NLG and make bail if you roll the right number?) (Edited to add: yes, a 6 or a 1 or whatever-- but only if every other player is also in jail.)

One thing we *did* settle on was the name. ProtestKid's first choice was "Occupy Police Escape" my first choice was "Solidarity March"... but in the end, I think he chose the best name:

All you need is Occupy.

Oh, and here's a few more shots of the board and pieces. Do you prefer pedal or petal power?

(If there are any other icons that you think should go on the teeny-tiny tiny tents, please let me know and I'll add them. The more the merrier. Occupy Every Space!)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Argh and solidarity tokens

I'm feeling frustrated that I can't do more, right now. Between summer vacation and twisted ankle, my physical forms of protest (or even gardening. My poor tomatoes) are severely curtailed.

So... if you're not seeing much of me, that's why.

I'm trying to buck myself up by looking ahead to Sept 17th, when LittleMan and ProtestKid will be safely in school and I can march and witness more safely.

Before the May 1st protests, I acknowledged that a lot of people I know and love wanted to be there in the streets but couldn't risk leaving home and work. I suggested people make and send tokens to me and I promised to wear them that day, so they could be present in some way.

Several people said Yes, they wanted to participate, but then life got in the way and that didn't happen.

But hey look, I'm stuck on my butt and don't have any more kerchiefs to make and I really want to be making things for Occupy.

So let's make it super easy: you tell me what you would like me to make to symbolize you and your support of Occupy Wall Street, and I'll (do my best to) make it and wear it September 17th. Preferably fabric/badge type stuff, but I'm flexible and enjoy a challenge.

Or, if you prefer, tell me what you'd like me to make and I'll send it to you so you can wear something in solidarity with OWS in your own life on September 17th. (Kerchiefs are fun, but I can probably make more subtle stuff than that on request...)


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Solidarity Sunday

We're on vacation, so I haven't been able to do any active actions-- no Summer Disobedience School, no Occupy the Citi, No standing outside Trinity with a cardboard sign and stalwart expression. Hence the lack of dramatic posts.

Also, because my cell phone can't get a signal, no posting photos of the amazing pictures my kids have been drawing for Mark Adams.

How can I brag properly without them?

We've been sending letters almost daily since we got his mailing address in jail. About two weeks of daily cards, now, with pictures from ProtestKid and LittleMan (Who has asked me to call him Protest4 because he is 4 years old. Is there a prouder ProtestMom out there? I don't think so...) in each one. I've been nervous, wondering if I was addressing them correctly or if they would confiscate the kids' drawings.

But just the other morning I stumbled across and started to tear up:

"He’s received quite a bit of written correspondence – so much, in fact, that the corrections officers remarked to him that he was getting mail “like Lil Wayne did when he was in Rikers!” Some of the letters came from quite a distance, and Mark said he was particularly tickled by some childrens’ drawings of the D17 courtroom – a big round judge, and Mark sitting on a bench with a big beard."

That's my boy!

... And that's all, really. On vacation. Writing letters. Sand everywhere. Be back soon.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

ProtestKid interviews Me

ProtestKid has a lot of questions about why his friend Ted got arrested on December 17th, and since writing helps me clarify my thoughts on things, I thought I'd put it out here. Please to note, these are answers I am giving to an eight year old. Adults might get slightly different answers.

Why are police being so mean to protesters? Why would they arrest a peaceful protester?

In our society, police are supposed to focus on the law-- what's legal and what isn't. Their job (not who they are as people, just what they get paid for) is not to worry about what's right or what's good.

I know the police's job is to enforce the laws. Why did they arrest him when he wasn't doing anything wrong? He was protesting a grievance, the bill of rights says you can do that.

Good question! In this particular situation, a lot of stuff was going on. People were making music and talking and carrying signs on the sidewalk outside a fenced lot. That piece of land, the city says, belonged to Trinity Wall St, a religious corporation. (Note: that language I picked up from sitting in court. I'm not being snarky, Trinity's legal counsel called them that.)

The police didn't arrest anybody for being on the sidewalk. Some people brought a ladder and used it to climb over the fence. Do you remember how Liberty got cleared out in November?

Yes. They put up a fence so people couldn't get in. They beated people. They killed puppies. So so so bad.

Right. So for a whole month, the occupiers hadn't had anywhere to call home, from November to December 17th. And Trinity Wall St owned this vacant land, and the Occupiers decided that it was the perfect place to build a new home.

They brought two ladders, actually, and people even moved part of the fence and opened a gate and lots of people went into the space with backpacks full of camping gear so they could make a place to protest from.

Our friend Ted was one of those people. After lots of people came in, chanting and hugging and dancing, the police came and arrested everyone they could reach. They reached Ted. (The guy wearing a grey knit hat sitting in front of Bishop Packard)

Why didn't they put handcuffs on him? Usually they put handcuffs on the prisoners?

I don't know! I think they ran out of handcuffs.

That's kind of funny. ...Why didn't he run away?

I don't know for sure, because I haven't asked him. But I can tell you some reasons a person might not run away.

One is, they know they can't escape. If you "resist arrest" and the police catch you again, you can get into a lot of trouble. Really lots.

Another is, they think they haven't done anything wrong. If you aren't afraid of the consequences of being arrested, then you have no reason to run.

Is that enough? Or do you need more explanation?

A little more, I'm still confused.

Sometimes police arrest the wrong person. If you're sure you're innocent and you believe you (or your lawyer) can prove it in a court of law, then you don't need to feel afraid and run away. (Though even if you are innocent, it is scary being arrested, and you can't be sure the court will find you innocent, and jail is no fun.)

Another kind of innocent is if the police say what you're doing is wrong-- like trespassing--

What is trespassing?

It's when you go onto somebody else's property without their permission and knowing that if you asked permission, they would definitely say no way.

...So maybe someone arrested for trespassing would say, "Well, yes I was there, but I didn't think the owner would mind so much." So they think a trial will clear them of the charges against them.

Another kind of being innocent, though it's trickier, is saying, "Yes, I was there, and yes I knew the owner of the space I was in wouldn't like it, but my reasons for being there were much more important than what the owners want."

Like, if you saw a little kid was hurt in somebody's back yard and no one was coming to help them. They might not want you in their yard, but helping the little kid is way more important than something like "property rights"... So if the police arrested you, you might say, "Yes, I was trespassing, and I had no reason to think the owners of the yard would let me in, but the little kid was hurt, and helping is more important than anything else."

I've got a question about the court. What does the jail look like? Does it look like a really tall upside down cylinder made from bars?

That sounds like a cartoon! In real life... I don't know, I haven't been inside a jail before. But if Ted gets found guilty and is sent to jail, we will go visit him and find out. Deal?


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pancakes of Lurve

A recipe:

3 cups flour. (I usually do a mix of whole wheat and white)
3 Tbsp sugar (I usually put in 1-2, because Maple Syrup!)
2 tsp double acting baking powder (orig recipe said 1.5, but that was hard to measure. It's not an exact science)
1 tsp salt
(an amount, not to exceed 3 Tbsp, of wheat germ if you are being super duper healthy or your guests aren't and need it)
(spices to try: cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom)

3 cups milk (or apple juice if you've run out of milk because Coffee!... use much less sugar if you use apple juice)
3 Tbsp butter (melted)
1-2 eggs (1 if you're low, one yolk 2 whites if you like it extra fluffy, 2 whole eggs if you're tired, 3 if you like really eggy pancakes or you're trying to kill someone with an egg allergy)
1 tsp vanilla

Mix dry ingredients while butter melts. This is a good job for a helper.

Once the butter is melted, mix it with the milk/juice/cider/liquid-that-is-not-eggs and warm it all to body temperature. (Stick your finger in it. If it feels pleasantly warm, good. If it hurts... let it cool.)

Add warm liquid to dry ingredients, then add beaten eggs and stir it gently and not very much. Lumps are ok, these aren't crepes. If the batter is too runny, add a Tbsp or 2 of white flour to thicken. If it gets too thick, then add some more milk/juice. No such thing as too much batter, adjust as you go if the first couple pancakes just don't turn out right.

Batter likes to have a rest before you start cooking it-- gives a chance for the double acting baking powder to do its thing. However, if you leave it overnight in the fridge (which Joy of Cooking says you can do for pancakes first thing in the morning) the batter will turn grey.

It's still edible, but... grey... So sometimes the kids get a bowl of cereal before I start making pancakes just so they don't whine while I'm cooking. Zombie pancakes. *shiver*

Skillet should be hot but not burning and should be sprayed with Pam or butter or something. There is enough butter in the batter that after the first pancake you don't need to re-grease, but an initial deposit of fat will improve your overall cooking experience.

Pancakes are ready to flip sometime after the first bubble pops and a crater is left behind, and before your smoke alarm goes off.

My mom used to say that the first pancake should be thrown away. I don't know if that's because she didn't grease the pan or it was a holdover from god-sacrifice times, but if your first pancake is a mess, don't panic. If your third pancake is a mess, try adjusting heat (warmer than medium but only just) liquid (milk!) dry (flour!) or expectations (human!)...

This recipe feeds 3 hungry people. If you need to feed more than that, add flour, bacon, sausages, croissants, yogurt, and other tasty things until everyone is full.

NOTE: If you want to add fruit, DO NOT add it to the batter. (And not just because some of your guests are picky eaters/ungrateful wretches, though they are and will make gagging noises at the thought of fruit in their pancakes) You never get them evenly distributed and they just burn and make holes in the pancake.

Pour (or scoop) out your batter onto your hot surface, and wait a few seconds for the bottom to cook. Then take a handful of fruit (or chocolate chips) and sprinkle them onto the top of the pancake. Proceed as normally. When you flip, yes they will make a mess and a hole-- but only on one side of the pancake.

...Or you could just serve fruit on the side...

Anyway, hope this was helpful. As I tweeted earlier, cigarettes and coffee work short term, but for a happy revolution you need pancakes.

Well, fuck

So, as my "About Me" section used to say, I wrote a novel the summer of 2010. It was a mad splurging rush of drama and excitement as I tried to create with my own ten fingers a future that had all the scary things in it I was afraid of (I am afraid of many things) that still had room for joy and growth and people falling in love and art and stuff so I could pretend my grandchildren would be ok because they so obviously weren't.

And then Occupy happened.

And now I'm totally stuck, because Occupy has changed the universe for real. It has made more options possible, both good and horrible, and anything I write now in Suncatcher's universe feels out of touch unless I mention how  Occupy has touched it.

But since we don't know what Occupy will look like in 60 minutes, I can't write about it in 60 years without immediately being ret conned by reality.

Curse you, Occupy, for making my dystopia irrelevant.

Now how am I supposed to pay for my kids' college education?

(Or even get Bujold and Scalzi and Yolen and McKinley and McKillip to hang out with me at SF author nights?)


This was not the future I expected, and I don't know how to write about it. Ideas gratefully accepted in the comments.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


I've got a previous commitment this morning, but my heart is with those outside Trinity Church. I know one of the people charged with trespass on December 17th, and am aware that "It could have been me"... Well, if they had managed to get the fence down. (I'm afraid of many things, but especially heights. Thank goodness I'm short or I'd never make it out of bed.)

Light humor aside, I'm serious. Not as serious as this guy, but I am moved by his real sacrifice. The least I can do is collect some appropriate Bible quotes together in one place to help others make signs more easily:

Hebrews 13:3 Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.


Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

(Psalm 23:6)


Matthew 25:40-45

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was astranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’

Matthew 8:20 

And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

Psalm 34:17-20 

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.

Proverbs 21:26 

All day long he craves and craves, but the righteous gives and does not hold back.

Isaiah 61:1 

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

2 Timothy 2:9 

For which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!

If there are any other Bible quotes you think are appropriate, send me a link and I'll be happy to add them.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

ProtestKid learns about corruption

What color was your balloon today?

Orange. It's easy to see. We usually use yellow and I wanted to use something different.

Why do you bring a balloon to Occupy events? 

So that we are visible to the other occupiers and the police so they're easy on people having the balloons.

What was the focus of today's Disobedience School?

Grounding. It's to be aware of your surroundings and the other things around you. It's also so you can maybe de-arrest someone if you're able to. Arresting is when the cops take you. De-arresting is when your friends take you back without handcuffs.

A way of grounding is, for instance, if someone takes you by the leg and tries to lift you up. If you're grounding, you put your weight on both feet, knees bent just a little bit. While you guys were grounding I was eating my McDonald's. 

What was something you learned?

Mainly it was about the grounding and the hopping which I did a little bit. I did help with the wall, as well. (LittleMan) came, too. I think he learned about the hopping. He's really good at the hop thing. I think I'm best at the wall. It's not too hard but it's not too easy.

Where did we go after Bryant Park?

This week we did marching. We used Broadway songs and wrapped them up a little bit to make relations with Occupy.

Which song was your favorite?

The last one on the sheet. "Super Catastrophic Economic Ponzi Schemes. Leave it up to Wall Street and they'll go to the extre-emes." (singing) It was kind of silly. I think we ended up at the fountain thing... on 50th street. After I was done singing I blew bubbles.

What sort of action would you like to do next week?

Next week I want to march to Wall Street. Do a little singing about banks being wrong and bad stock exchanges. If it's too far to march, then I'd want to go over to the Chrysler Building. It's a famous building, so it's got a lot of power with the government and the protestors are against corrupt government.

How do we fight corruption?

We march and do things like that. It makes people want to join occupy, and the more people we get the more powerful we are. Soon, we might get lots of hearts to rise up to occupy. And once we get to there, at that day, I think... I hope that day...we'd have enough people to defeat the government that's corrupt.

Do you know what corrupt means?

Well, no. It's not a good thing, that's all I know.

Corruption means they don't listen to the people they're supposed to serve, they just listen to the people with money.

 We need enough people that we can influence... and have them listen to the occupiers, not just the rich. Not just the 1%.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

So on twitter, I recently insinuated that Bloomberg stood to make money off of war because his fortunes are intimately tied to Wall Street, Wall Street makes more money in volatile times, and what makes things more volatile than war?

Having said that (and being very ambivalent about the current state of Israel, especially in regards to its treatment of Palestinians), I want to unpack that insinuation in more than 140 characters while also talking about antisemitism in a more historical (pre-World War II) context.

I'm not sure where to begin, so let's start with Bloomberg.

He makes his money mainly by renting out "Bloomberg terminals"... These are monitors (now flat screen) that run proprietary software. They are expensive, the contracts are legal works of art (if you, as a hedge fund, crash and burn, you still have to pay out your full contract even if you no longer have an office to house your terminal(s) in), and the terminals crunch numbers (in an almost infinite variety of ways) so traders don't have to.

I don't know if the company actually makes money off of Bloomberg News and Bloomberg Business Week, but they gain "mindshare"... Bloomberg considers Reuters and Knight-Ridder its competition, because Bloomberg isn't about selling stocks. It's about renting out the means to make sense of the almost infinite amount of financial data out there.

So, that's why Bloomberg the Man (and Mayor) cares about Wall Street. He wants more and more terminals to be rented by denizens of Wall Street, and more and more eyeballs to turn to Bloomberg when they want raw (or crunched) financial data.

Ok, so, also?  He's Jewish. Just like he's also a guy who was born well off, and made his first million on Wall Street before he was fired (gossip is, because he was a jerk. I couldn't possibly comment as I have never met the man).... He might also collect My Little Ponies, but I don't know. (Isn't that a great image? Savor it, do...)

I have a knee-jerk reaction (as do, I think, most people who I consider "properly brought up") to anything that smacks of antisemitism. So, when I talk about Jews (especially historically) I want to be clear that I'm not a huge student of history, I'm not Jewish, and there's no such thing as one Jewish viewpoint or experience. Not a monolith.

I get nervous when people talk about "rich Jews" "Jewish bankers" "Jewish moneylenders" and any variation on that theme. I want to explore where that (dangerous) stereotype comes from. (Also, this is from an Anglo-centric, Christian-cultural place. I don't know more than this. My limits don't have to be your limits.)

So, here are some places I start when thinking about it:

Going back to ancient history, with the losses of the first and second Temples, Jews (unlike other gods-worshipping folk) were no longer defined by a singular place of worship. Jews made an epic transition from being People of the Temple (a specific and concrete location) to People of the Book (an idea). (A thought-- much like Occupy, as we have moved from physical encampments to trying to create a common identity without a common place to link us. I wonder how well we are succeeding, and where we will end up?)

...Without being tied to a location (and often being refused the right to own land or the means of production in the places they made their homes), Jews had to come up with ways to earn a living that were not tied to a specific place. Trading, selling, and honing skills that could be taken with you in the dead of night should your neighbors stop tolerating your Otherness weren't just stereotypes. They were the smart decision-- and sometimes no choice at all.

In medieval and Enlightenment England, for instance, Jews (and later Quakers) were barred from college or working in government. What does a smart person do if they cannot be a professor or a public servant? They go into business. 

You may have heard the term "usary"... basically, charging interest on a loan, which (early) Christian churches said not to do. A (Christian) king who was interested in going to war might have trouble squeezing his vassals for enough money to fund a thousand knights all at once. (Christian) folks with money might not be interested in giving him a huge loan, with only a vague promise to pay it all back... later. After he's conquered the Holy Lands. ("Just this once, I promise. I can quit Crusading any time...")

Jews who had money (not, let me remind my gentle reader, Jews who did *not* have a lot of money, which there were plenty of. Perhaps even 99%) were not limited by dogmatic prohibitions against charging interest, so they had no religious, social or practical reason *not* to lend a powerful king money to fight his little war far away, as long as he (I'm assuming gender here; I bet there are a few women money lenders out there and I should love to hear about them if you know more about it, but I'm sticking with "he" as generic for the moment) got his (huge) interest jackpot later. (Yea, spoils of war!)

I don't know which came first, the Jewish money lender or the Jewish tax collector. I *think* that the "Jewish tax collector" motif comes more from Eastern Europe, where there were more Jews (than in England) but they were still often a minority-- a useful Other, as far as the ruler was concerned. Very useful, Others, when the populace starts to get restive about the huge amount of taxes you've been levying. Especially with all these wars you've been starting with the neighbor would-be Czar.

Sure, the peasants are ultimately mad at the king for taking their money-- but he's far away. The tax collector is the face of the 1%, the guy who is coming to your door. Much easier to punch *him* in the face-- and safer, too, if you can get away with it. He is the punching bag between the oppressor and the oppressed. Resentment of the (small) amount of power and otherness he represents (has) festered and flared over the years.

How does an unpopular local potentate cajole his peasants into believing he's someone you could drink a shot of Vodka with? Why, persecute a hated minority! Pogroms for everyone! Pass the pitchfork and look the other way...


Antisemitism isn't just a dangerous path to trot down for those who might be labled/accused of being Semitic. It is a time-honored tradition by the 1% to keep the money-makers & takers at a distance... just close enough they can reach into their pockets, just far enough they can toss them at the peasants while they run away in the other direction...

Bloomberg is a human being. He is making decisions based on the best information he has and the resources available to him. I don't know if he thinks much about history, or about people who don't have money.

I'm sure he has padded the war chests of many elected officials, and it's kind of nice that we live in a day and age when he doesn't have to just be a go-between, but can hold political office himself. (Yea.)

I'm nervous that he seems to fit a historical pattern so well. I worry that I might see a pattern where there is none, just because of the Christian culture I grew up in. (Nevermind that I was raised vaguely Hindu. Christian culture, I swam in it.) I worry that others might, too.

So I wanted to share some information about choices, so we can choose to make new ones.

Especially today, in honor of people who have paid the price for other people's bad decisions.


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Summer Disobedience School; Protest Kid Debriefs

Why were you excited to go to the protest today?

The part where I got excited today was when we got the philly cheese steak when we were going civilian.

What does "going civilian" mean?

If we see a cop we go away from the occupation and, like, do stuff that a regular person would be doing.Maybe, getting a hot dog, a souvenier or a toy at McDonalds. Looking at a map, things that protestors don't usually do.

What were we practicing today?

Invisible theater. For instance, you go up to a bank teller, for instance, and you say that you want to take your money out of the bank. And the teller says, "Well, ok, swipe your card into the reader so we can get the process started," but then you're totally ignoring him and cleaning everything up. You're not even listening a bit! You're wiping at things, like with a washcloth. So for that, also, you could go into a bank and not even have a reason to go there at all! You could go in and have a fake argument about whether a falcon or an eagle would win if they were hitting each other. ...I'm ready for the next question.

What did you learn today?

I learned how to "wall". It's kind of like soft blocking. It's different than soft blocking because sometimes you wall so you can get separated into different groups.

What was the most interesting thing we did?

The most interesting thing was doing the bank thing, with the two poles and the line of people walking around them singing chants and things like that. My real favorite chant is "Can't stop the power of the people 'cause the power of the people don't stop," because another group of people always say "Say what?" and I think it is pretty nice because you can take a moment to inhale before you spit any more words out.

Worst moment?

Getting lost when we were trying to find Wells Fargo.

What was the best moment?

The best moment was the pickets. I felt good because I was scouting-- being aware of police officers. It made me feel like one of the top people, because I was looking all over, until we started chanting. Then my thing was holding onto the balloon and chanting, then I wasn't as aware (of police).

What do you think would have made it even better?

Nothing really needed to change. I got bored at the end of the whole thing with all this meeting and I was so anxious to go. I was really tired. The grownups had a good time, I could tell that. I think the grownups will come back. Maybe next Saturday. Next Saturday I want to come back, but not Monday.

If someone wasn't there, what would you want them to know about it?

That it was fun.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I interview ProtestKid

Me: Why do you Occupy?

ProtestKid: The reason I occupy is because of not giving enough money to people. Plus, letting the rich steal from the middle class and the lower class and the poor. Why don't they get to steal as well as the rich?

Me: Well stealing isn't good, right?

PK: Really, I wish that we didn't steal. I wish that the rich would not steal. But the rich-- all they want is more money, all they care about is their money. They don't like it when crooks steal their stuff, they should really think about what they're doing before they actually state something. They should actually try to help people.

Me: Do you get interviewed a lot?

PK: I've gotten interviewed more than once.

Me: What was the best question they've asked you?

PK: How long I've been occupying. My first march was the one where the police brought out the kettling nets. I didn't know they were kettling nets, but I guessed that something was not going to be good. Then we just bought a pretzel and we left for the train.

Me: Do you think you get interviewed because you're a kid?

PK: Not exactly that I'm a kid, but that I'm cute. Well, I'm a really good occupier.

Me: What makes you a good occupier?

PK: I try to be as kind as possible.

Me: Have you ever been scared when you were occupying?

PK: I got a little nervous at my first march because of the kettling nets. Also I got a bit spooked by the first march with the riot police. I was a little afraid they would beat me with sticks. If I got attacked by riot police, I'd have the right to defend myself... right?

Me: How is it different being a kid when you protest?

PK: When you're an adult, it's easier for you to get arrested. When you're a kid, you're cute. There's less of a chance that you could get arrested. Why would someone arrest a cute little kid?

Me: Besides the police, what are you paying attention to when you protest?

PK: I'm paying attention to the march. The main thing is the reason I'm out there. It depends on different marches. On the Million Hoodie March, it was about Trayvon Martin. I felt really sad for him; really, his entire family. Even his great great grandparents. If they were alive, they would really not like the news, they would be crying.

The one after the protestors got kicked out (of Liberty)... The one with the chalk thing. The chalkupy. The main reason I was there was I wanted to take the park back for the protestors.

The hearts protest... I didn't think it was very successful, because of the police ripping the hearts off the fence way before Bloomberg could see them. And I am so mad about that. I was in the mood for fighting them. Sneak up, take their stun gun, and throw it in the garbage...If there was a garbage can.

Me: What do you want other kids to know about protesting?

PK: This is not just playtime. I know Parents for Occupy want to make it look like fun, so kids enjoy it. But really, the main reason kids and protestors-- each and every one of them-- is there to protest against greed, about our grievances, and to make this world a better place.

Little Man: When I'm big like ProtestKid, I'm going to go to the protest and protect the protestors.

***and at that point, it seemed like a lovely place to end the interview. Plus ProtestKid really wanted to go back to reading The Titan's Curse and I try not to abuse my Interrupting Mother privileges***

...If anyone else has questions for ProtestKid about occupy, I'd be happy to relay his answers...

Friday, May 11, 2012

a poem

My body is a protest
My words are a song
My wishes are legion
My demands are none

There are more of us
Than there are of me
And maybe together
Each one will be free

Gather the anger
Gather the fear
Gather the laughter
And gather it near

So it can hear the protest
So it can sing the song
So it can feed the legion
So it can be one.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Free Book! Again! Because!

Free Book! Because! and now this! just, y'know, take a break and read a free book because I would share my kitten with you but he doesn't travel online as well as books do.

(Edited to add: In case I was too clever, click on "Free Book" to get to the book.)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Comment I left at Citizen Radio

(Because hey, why not post it here. Some things happened May Day, but I'm not ready to talk about the Whole Day and y'all deserve that. But in the meantime, here's something to be getting on with...)

(They asked what we thought about permitted vs unpermitted marches)

My first march with Occupy was September 24th. I had no idea what I was getting into. (We're strolling to the bull and shouting a little, right? I know, I'll take my kid so he can see Democracy in Action!)...So suddenly we are in the street--I just thought it was because there was so much construction on the sidewalk there wasn't room for us all-- but young men and women are shouting at us "Stay close! Stick together!" and I'm running as fast as my short little legs can go... and we shouted "Banks got bailed out we got sold out!" at the sky and it was so god damn cathartic oh my god my chest opened up and the city *heard me*.

I've paraded for peace before, but the RNC protest was the last one I went to before Occupy. It was so frustrating. Nothing changed, no one cared. No one heard us. I mean, it was nice to be with others who cared, but it didn't feel like anyone else in America did. I stopped marching and focused on trying to teach my kids how to be good people....Tuesday, with my kid in one hand and a bag of sandwiches and juice boxes in the other (I'm a Mom, first and foremost), I got (a little!) impatient with the new protestors who didn't know that when the folks behind you start joyously shouting, "Whose streets? Our streets!" you're supposed to get off the sidewalk and put your feet on the road. I educated them. That's what Moms do, they model good civic behavior... right?

So, my heart is with unpermitted marches. That's where I am filled with joy and power and learn the limits of myself and those around me.

However, I also know that as a white stay at home Mom I can take way more chances with my body and the street than a whole mess of other people whose hearts might want to open to the sky, too.

Permits are a kind of protection that a lot of us feel like we need, who have been slapped down before. Plus I get less funny looks for bringing my kid to permitted events. :*)

And I loved May Day's permitted march as well-- but I had cops yelling at me to get on the sidewalk then, too, so really it's all risky behavior.

But I continue to think the risk is worth it. Every time I look at my kid, learning that if he starts a chant a dozen tired adults will grin and finish it, I know that he is learning about his own personal power.

I think every eight year old should-- pardon the pun-- be permitted that opportunity.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Good Thing

Good thing I wrote that letter.

ProtestKid struck up a conversation with his Vice Principal this morning in the breakfast line. He told her about the General Strike tomorrow and how he was participating.

"She tried to convince me to not go on the strike," he reports. "Reason one, because I needed an education. I told her I could home school. Reason two, that I was too young to go on the strike and you {ProtestMom} were a grown up so you could go on the strike. I said, 'No. I could go on the strike.' I didn't say anything about going to protests before, though. She said it wasn't safe because I was just a kid. Just for that reason, it doesn't make sense. Actually, she doesn't have a better reason because I've already done it before. I didn't mention the permitted stuff, as well. I just said, 'No,' that's it."

He did give the letter to his teacher, and she said she'd give it to the principal... but maybe it wasn't necessary after all. ProtestKid speaks for himself.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dear ProtestKid's Teacher

Dear ProtestKid Teacher,

Since he’s been wearing his Occupy Astoria LIC button to school every day (he smuggled it in, actually, as I’ve been trying to stress that it is politics and we try to keep politics out of school. Has he stopped bad mouthing Bloomberg yet?), I expect you know how much he cares about Occupy Wall Street and how passionately committed he is to the values of justice and solidarity it espouses.

You might also be aware that this coming Tuesday, May 1st, is a “Day without the 99%” and Occupy Wall Street is standing in solidarity with other groups nationwide that have called for a General Strike.

I wanted to let you know that I plan on taking ProtestKid with me as we fully participate in the entire day’s events and planned actions. I expect he will be engaged in a self-directed exploration of the history and practice of change-making in the United States. He will have access to oral histories and documents that will further enrich his understanding of politics, history and math.

I believe that participating will not only give him the chance to witness history, but also to stand in solidarity with teachers, police, documented and undocumented workers whose labor has been exploited and dishonored by the establishment  for far too long. I believe that taking him this coming Tuesday is as important a civic duty as the many times I have taken him with me to the voting booth.

If you have any questions, please contact me.

Otherwise, please excuse ProtestKid’s absence from school this coming Tuesday, May 1st. He will be otherwise occupied.

Alia Gee

Monday, April 23, 2012

A hive of industry...

Friday, ProtestKid and I helped hand out almost 1,000 copies of Occuprint's Strike paper outside Ditmars Blvd Station. I stood quietly and held them out, but ProtestKid was an outreach natural, "Have you heard about May 1st?" he asked people, handing them the paper. "It's free!" he'd cajole, walking backwards and turning it around at puzzled commuters, "Look, it even has funny cats on the back!"

He chased people down-- every single person getting off the N & Q train at Ditmars Blvd, on the exit we stood at, had to consider whether they wanted to say, "No, thank you," to ProtestKid or not. At least twice, after he had trouble taking No for an answer, I'd pull him back verbally, "You have to stop when they say no, ProtestKid," and they'd turn, look at me, and change their minds. The other times, they usually at least smiled gratefully at me... So it was still a positive Occupy experience for everyone.

Also, he pursued kids in particular, which I would not have thought to do. (Because really, it's creepy for adults to do that. Don't do that) and they would smile at him and take the paper and I think most of them at least read the funny cat cartoons. Which is as much as I expected from the adults, so...

ProtestKid ran non-stop for almost two hours, one paper at a time, one interaction, one smile, one intense discussion on the merits of lolcats and strikes and the 99% at a time, "Take two!" he said to the gypsy cab drivers who grinned at him and kept saying no until finally they gave in and took three. "Take one for a friend!" he enthused at the preening teenagers outside McDonalds. And they did.

I thought I would post about the beautiful and functional linen scarves/headwraps/handkerchiefs I made Sunday and today, but really it was nothing compared with his boundless enthusiasm Friday evening.

Here's to ProtestKid, and the future I hope he earns for himself and all the other kids.

Friday, April 20, 2012


Yesterday I marched back and forth with my sign in front of the blockaded Federal Hall steps for half an hour-- the nice senior parks police official explained that I could either stand still behind the barricade or march outside, and I chose motion and freedom. At least the SWAT team was elsewhere, unlike Tuesday when they wore bulletproof vests.

So I marched. And then I bought hot sandwiches for the occupiers-- one of the medics almost cried, "This is the best breakfast I've had in weeks." She was the same one whose partner told the arresting cops that she had seizures, stop beating her-- so they threw her head (I could almost see the bruise, still) against stairs. She was the same one who witnessed cops (during the Liberty Square eviction) stomp on puppies and throw them in the garbage. (Unsurprisingly, they lost 4 medics who witnessed that behavior and were too upset to come back.) She was the same one who had 47 minutes of freedom between being released and re-arrested. The second arrest, as she was walking away from a protest scene-- with her lawyer walking besides her. She was about my height and several stone lighter, but it took ten cops to beat her up. She was as surprised at her fearsomeness as I was.

So then I had to get them coffee and hot chocolate-- one of the other occupiers said the medics had stayed up all night, keeping an eye on the people asleep at 60 Wall, since that is the only place (as of now) where then can sleep unmolested.

I slept for 11 hours last night, and I'm still tired.

[Edited to subtract some flaming rhetoric that hurt a friend.]

I'm going to blame the tired for the burning words. And/but it is hard seeing the protestors hurting, and I don't know how much energy the rest of the world has to care.
It makes me feel crazy.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


OWS Update: I guess I probably didn't mention here, though it was all over my twitter... Yesterday morning I went down to Federal Hall. I brought munchkins and canned fruit and then discovered the closest Dunkin Donuts (Google Maps lied, it is not on Fulton but Maiden Lane, FWIW) and ordered two dozen donuts and a gallon of coffee and a gallon of hot chocolate. "Will that be all?" asked the manager. "That's all I can carry!" I said, laughing. She smiled brightly, "I'll help you carry!" she suggested.

I'm not sure if she was serious or not. ...Maybe next time I'll take her up on the offer.

J and Y and (er, I forget his name) gave me big hugs and thanked me, saying that sort of thing really helped them keep going. A tourist took pictures and grinned and kept saying, "Is this a zoo? They look like animals!" I turned my back on him because yes, they are caged in by police and heckling tourists and they aren't perfect but they are trying. They are trying so hard. And if I was more clever or more kind I would engage him in a meaningful dialogue... But I had just carried two gallons of hot liquid several blocks and I wasn't feeling the right kind of thoughtful.

A young woman had "DEBT" written on her t-shirt. Later she added "End" above it and "Slavery" below it. She stood next to the Washington Statue and a Parks Debt SWAT team member-- in his bullet proof vest-- came up and told her she had to move away from George. Apparently, Washington didn't want her free speech cooties.

He made her move the cardboard signs that had piled up at George's feet, too. He didn't notice the fruit cup. I was proud of that little fruit cup. Go, fruit cup, go! Stand short and proud! Speak your truth silent and sweet!


Today is a LittleMan day, and he doesn't want to go to protests. "I scared, I don't want to get arrested," he says and I don't blame him. Monday morning he woke up, and the first thing he said was, "Mommy, when you get arrested I don't know where you are and I'm scared!" So we had a snuggle and talked about how  !ProtestDaddy and ProtestKid would be safe and would take care of him even if he didn't know where I was.

But he still doesn't want to come to protests, and I still don't blame him.

Tomorrow, then, when he's at daycare I'll tromp down. Maybe I'll bring some fresh markers and cardboard.

If there's something you'd like me to write on a sign and hold for the morning, let me know. I've avoided that, but if the police are going to escalate their harassment, maybe I need to escalate my silent truth.

Now, with added sugar.

Friday, April 13, 2012


So I haven't posted much, despite us still being pretty active, because I was struggling with how to justify bringing my kid(s) to protest(s).

Not to myself, because it's just what I have to do if I'm going to participate and boy howdy I must participate.

Maybe not to you, the person who reads my posts because we went to high school together and you love me.

But to you, the person who is shocked-- Shocked, I tell you-- that I am bringing my child(ren) into a Dangerous Situation. You, the person who plans to blame me (and is judging me in advance) if someone else hurts me or my child as a direct (or even indirect) consequence of my bringing my kid(s) to protest(s).

Dear You,

Everyone has different parenting styles, so if what I'm about to share doesn't make sense to you, then we'll have to assume that nothing else I say will make sense and please don't bother to comment, just move along to the next blog.

If you have kids, or ever were a kid, or have seen kids play, I hope you have experienced a mudpie. It might not be just mud-- there might be grass involved, or dandelions (or, in my own personal experience, it was mud soup in a bucket and along with the dirt and the grass there was one slice of American cheese broken up into tiny pieces... for flavor. The neighbor kids got much cooler food than my organic family. *yearn*)... but there was play. And sometimes there was a bite taken out of the pie (or a straw inserted into the bucket of soup...)... and it didn't kill us.

It became a story to tell, an experience to ruminate upon, a moment playing together in the sunshine that taught us important things about the power of cheese. (Like, it can't make mud and grass soup taste good.)

Kids need danger. Not guns in their faces and bombs in their backyards kinds of danger. But they need mudpie danger.

They need to learn to recognize it and how to protect themselves from it or they will go into the world and they will buy half the shares in the first mudpie factory they see. They will learn to fear dirt, grass, and cheese rather than the people who tell them mudpies are yummy.

They will believe the dangerous, pretty lies if they don't also see the people holding up big cardboard signs with the delicious truth on them.

I'm their mother, and it's my responsibility to make sure the mudpies they experience aren't laced with arsenic or toxic debt.

But I have to give them a taste of danger, or they will choke on it when I'm not there.

Thanks for reading, and I hope that helps you understand the decisions I make and the experiences I'm giving my kid(s).


Tuesday, April 3, 2012


I just tweeted, "I'm starting to wonder if I can rely on any rights, or if all I can do is throw my body into the machine &hope it breaks before my bones do."

This was in response to the Supreme Court deciding that we are all guilty until proven innocent; as soon as one is arrested one can be strip searched even if later one is exonerated from any wrong doing.

You may have noticed from my last two posts that I've been feeling twitchy about my right to protest and the frightening ways the system could hurt me and my family if I continue to exercise my right to protest.

This Supreme Court decision to nullify my right to privacy-- to the right to not be anally probed without cause-- is a core issue. (yes, i made a bad pun. sorry.)

But I'm not sorry.

Here we go, the other side of fear. I may not stay on this side, but for now I'm going to coast on laughter. You really want to see my squishy insides? You think that I will stop resisting because you stick a finger up my butt? I will be ashamed that you don't trust my body?

When have The Powers That Be *ever* trusted my body? It's female, it's dangerous and wrong already. How scary *is* my ass, people?


Fuck it. Yes, I will keep throwing my dangerous body into the jaws of the machine.

But honestly, I would much rather throw pumpkin bread at it.

Friday, March 30, 2012

NLG Lawyer


I talked to an NLG lawyer who has been doing "mass defense" for years.

It was very educational. I'm still mulling it all over. This may only be relevant for NY/NYC, but here's what I remember/from my notes...

If we (Protest Kid and I) march in the street, the police do not have to warn us that they are going to arrest us before they do.

If we march on the sidewalk during an unpermitted march (ie, all Occupy-instigated actions), it still isn't (legally) safe even if we stop at traffic lights.

I forget if it was only if the police got crazy and we got hurt, or even if someone just decided to be Bureaucratically Evil (tm) at us, but I could be charged with "neglect and abuse" for allowing Protest Kid to march with me. And if they were being Bureaucratically Evil on Steroids they could charge Protest Kid (he's only 7!) as a juvenile delinquent.


This was the lawyer's expert counsel, and his specialty is neglect and abuse cases, so this is the most extreme case and how to avoid it.

But he also pointed out (and I am shamefully paraphrasing and there were many significant pauses that I filled in with my own assumptions so don't sue anybody kthanxbai) that the police have gotten more... shall we say... unpredictable. So I can't rely on Protest Kid being obviously a kid and obviously adorable to protect him or the occupiers around him from police violence.


I have not yet decided what this knowledge means for me and my family going forward (and whatever pronouncement I make today could be vouchsafed by events tomorrow).

...but I thought this might be useful info for others. And hey, now *you* get to go through the whole cycle in private without a lawyer listening to your worldview crumble.

Yeah, I got to domy kneejerk terror "omgwtfbbq they want to take away my babeeeez?" and then my rage-y "How dare ANYONE suggest I'm a Bad Mother for exercising my first amendment rights and teaching my kid the same!" and then the whiney "But they're my riiiiights" with a highly educated audience.

"I'm sorry," I said to the lawyer near the end, "I'm having trouble assimilating this. I'm a white middle class girl, I'm not used to thinking of the police like this."

"Yeah," said the lawyer, "That's the sound of delusion popping."

But speaking of tomorrow/ the future, the NLG lawyer also suggested we put a list of "kids and protest" questions together and mail them to the NLG and they could find a lawyer who would be willing to speak to a group of us about these issues.

Are you excited? I'm excited! (gulp)

So right now I'm collecting questions. If you have a question, please tell me so I can write it down and submit it to the frightening but competent people at NLG.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Safer Protest Kids

I spent Sunday afternoon brainstorming with a lawyer-friend ways to protest more safely (in a legal sense) with Protest Kid.

I've left a message with the NLG and I'll update this post when I hear back from them.

In the meantime, and in case others find this helpful:

When I put the NLG number on my arm, I'll be putting Protest Kid's emergency contact number (!Protest Daddy's) on his. (I've also written his, mine, and my out of state sister's name and phone number on a piece of paper that will live in Protest Kid's pocket.) ...I may put other numbers on his legs, when it gets warm enough for shorts... (Yeah, it starts to look like a magic totem thing, words and numbers scrawled on bodies to keep them safe. I'm a nervous Mom, deal.)

We had already tended to visit the medics when we went to a protest site/action. Now, I'll be making it a priority to greet them first and let them know that not only have I brought a kid, but I've told him that if we get separated and he doesn't feel safe he should mic check for a medic.

Here's the scarier-for-me part:

Should we get separated by police, I've told him not to fight. I've told him to do what the police tell him to do.

I hate that. He is a fighter and an independent thinker already.

But not only is he no physical match for any police officer, I like to think that Protest Kid is known and loved enough in the Occupy community that other adults might come to his physical defense-- and then people could get really (really) hurt.

So. I've told him firmly to go with the officers and do what they tell you (and my heart broke a little when tears welled in his eyes)-- BUT I also told him to mic check that he wants a lawyer and he wants a medic with him. I'm hoping that even if the police refuse, it will be on film so nothing he says (because boy is that kid a talker) can be used against him or others.

Hopefully that won't ever happen. Hopefully there will be no surprise kettles, no unannounced police riots. But the police are amping up both the violence and the randomness of their responses, so I'm pretending to be even more paranoid than I actually am and preparing for that.

Ultimately, I think Protest Kid will be safest if those around him know him and love him: so if you see a kid at a march with a yellow balloon, come say Hi.

Solidarity, because I need your help keeping my baby safe.

Thank you.


EDITED TO ADD (from my lawyer friend, though please don't sue her or me, do your own research too, etc):

...Some additional thoughts:
Consider rehearsing scripts with Protest Kid so he can assert his rights if
the system gets their hands on him.
To NYPD officers:  I want to talk to my mother.  I want to call my
father.  I want to go home.  I don't want to talk about the
Asserting his rights with words will be safer and more effective than
resisting physically.
His emergency contact info sheet should probably have a street address
where you would want for him to be taken by whoever might be helping
him.  It should have your home address so he doesn't have to remember
it if he's upset and stressed out.
I found some info that might be helpful about your rights as a parent
if you're taken into custody:
The material is for parents going into jail to serve terms, but the
principle is that you have the right to make phone calls to arrange
for the care of your child.

Again, as I get more info I'll add it, but hope this is helpful as-is.