Movie: Parents In The Occupy Wall Street Movement

Note: A key to successful transformation by social movements is for the movement to become a mainstream movement.  That means that it puts forward ideas supported by a majority of the population that the government refuses to respond to; and that a percentage of the population becomes mobilized in support of that movement.  Research shows that if 3.5% of the population mobilizes to support a social movement it has never failed in the last 100 years of resistance struggles.

To become a mainstream movement we need to have a wide range of people involved.  Families, bringing their children is of critical importance for a number of reason.  First families are a symbol that the movement is mainstream and safe to participate in.  Second, it sends a message to the power structure that support for transformation is deep.  And, third it educates young people who will carry this social movement for transformation to success.  

The occupy encampments across the country were a critical stage in the movement’s development, known as the “Take Off Stage,” are make-up Stage 4 of the 8 Stages of Successful Social Movements.  We are currently in Stage 6 — Building National Consensus — this stage, which precedes Stage 7 “Success”, could take years, so the young people in this movie may be adults when we succeed. People should not see the movement as over because the occupy encampments no longer exist, rather we need to see that as an essential step in the development of a mass social movement for economic, environmental and social justice. KZ

“Parents of the Revolution” is a feature length documentary that follows a group of activist parents in the Occupy Wall Street movement who believe that it’s their democratic duty to teach their kids to speak out against injustice. The purpose of the film is to create a national conversation about how we can get our kids to be more civically minded. The film premieres in all formats on May 15th. If your organization is interested in having a screening of the film, please visit http://parentsoftherevolution.com/host-a-screening/ or email us at screenings@parentsoftherevolution.com

In late October, 2011, a month into Occupy Wall Street’s takeover of Zuccotti Park in New York City’s financial district, a new movement erupts amidst the excitement and turmoil with police––Parents of Occupy Wall Street. Started by Kirby Desmarais, a gutsy and resourceful 26-year-old mom and independent music manager, the group is meant to be an outlet for families to get more involved in Occupy Wall Street. In fact, Kirby organizes a “family sleepover” in Zuccotti Park, which draws over 500 kids and parents with sleeping bags in tow, ready for a night of protesting.

Among the families joining Kirby’s group are Rob and Myra Territo, an inner-city schoolteacher and real estate agent from New Jersey. As veteran activists, the Territos see Parents of Occupy Wall Street as an opportunity to show their 5-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter what it means to speak out against injustice. Joining them are Rivka and Bruce Little, a biracial couple raising their 6- and 13-year-old daughters in the Jewish faith. The Littles protest due to concern for their girls’ safety from the controversial “stop and frisk” policies that dominate their East Harlem neighborhood. Rounding out the group is Mark Hamilton, a dad slash indie rocker, who is compelled to bring his young daughter Scarlett out to Occupy. Energized, the group is ready to give voice to the others like them amongst the 99%–– families struggling across the country.

However, as the Occupy Wall Street movement falls apart and the NYPD becomes increasingly violent toward protesters, Kirby and her group struggle with their mission. After a clash with police goes viral online, the parents are accused of using their children as “human shields.” And a new federal law threatens to treat the protesting parents like terrorists.

Can this group overcome the many challenges they face and make a difference? Will they get arrested and their kids taken away? The end of the film will find Kirby being driven away in the back of a police car, but for reasons that will surprise you.