O.W.S. creates special space for parents and children

BY CYNTHIA MAGNUS  |  Approximately 50 parents and children spent Friday night, Oct. 21, in Zuccotti Park as part of a “Parents for Occupy Wall Street” event that took place in a special, cordoned-off area of the park near the Joie de Vivre sculpture. Originally planned for Oct. 14, the slumber party was postponed in the face of the O.W.S. eviction by park owner Brookfield Properties. Several hundred parents and children participated in kid-friendly activities during the day.

Mother of three Cobi Cronen came from Ocean Township, NJ with her three daughters for the event. “I was going to sleep over anyway with the girls, but then found out about the event.” Cronen said she brought Sabbath candles to light in the park, “a little later than usual,” with the girls. She said she followed the O.W.S. online instructions for the event.

O.W.S. protester Kirby Desmarais, who helped organize the event, said the group’s General Assembly, the decision-making body for the camp, approved the establishment of a restricted area in Zuccotti. Volunteers with clipboards checked identification and prohibited other park users from entering the restricted area. Desmarais also said that the area was off-limits to press.

Among the requests that the Financial District and Quality of Life committees of Community Board 1 have made to O.W.S. in the course of their now month-long negotiations is that the group make space in the park for neighborhood residents and workers to use as they always have.

Pat Moore, chair of the C.B.1’s Quality of Life Committee, has been active in negotiations with the protesters for over a month in an effort to address community concerns about park use, noise, and other issues. She is also a member of the Financial District committee that last month requested space be made available in Zuccotti for local users.

The head of the O.W.S. community relations group, Justin Wedes, said then that the park is open to everyone and that it would not be “plausible” to make special space available for neighborhood users.

In regard to the parents event, Moore said, “I find it very interesting that where there’s a will, there’s a way. Obviously it’s possible when it’s for an O.W.S. event.”

When asked if it was fair that O.W.S. chose to create a restricted section of the park for the event, when the community has been asking for shared space in Zuccotti, Bill Dobbs, with O.W.S. press relations said, “I’m not going to comment on that. All I’m going to say is that it was handled in a reasonable way.”

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