October 10, 2011, 5:02 pm
Children Spend a Day at Protesters’ EncampmentBy ALICE SPERI
With public schools and some private schools closed for Columbus Day, a new wave of protesters joined the ranks of Occupy Wall Street on Monday: a few dozen children who gathered at Zuccotti Park with their parents, carrying homemade signs riddled with charming misspellings and cheering “Occupy Wall Stre-et Is The Place to Be-ee.”
Caleb Horowitz, 7, a second grader at Public School 116 in Manhattan, said he had joined the protest “to protect animals, and because some people are very poor and have no homes and food — stuff like that.”
He proudly waved the sign he had painted for the occasion: “Be fair to all things. Eat less meat. Some people have no homes, food, water. I always see a person with nofing.”
“I wrote all of this,” he explained. “And it’s true. I know a guy that is homeless.”
“He sleeps next to our home,” Caleb’s 4-year-old brother, Toby, interjected. His own sign read, “No killing animals.”
Toby had gotten help from his father, Mitch Horowitz. “All week they have been asking me to go to a protest,” Mr. Horowitz said.
One of the largest contingents of young protesters was students at Central Park East I and Central Park East II elementary schools, accompanied by some parents, staff members and even baby brothers and sisters.
Naomi Smith, the principal at Central Park East II, said she had always made it a point to teach her students that Columbus did not discover America. The protest, she said, seemed like a perfect opportunity for children to learn something while school was not in session.
“One of our models is teaching to make a difference,” Ms. Smith said. “I thought it would be great for the children to see what’s happening here. This is what democracy looks like.”
Nehand Hammonds, 10, said she was protesting the injustice that some people have very nice houses while others have no houses at all.
“I learned that kids in Africa were doing a protest,” she said, “and I thought I should go to one too.”
Her friend Davie Langer, 10, wearing a “Kids Against War” shirt, said she had come because “some people have a lot of money, and some people have to give a lot of their money and have little.”
“What’s going on is not cool,” she said. “Tomorrow I’ll tell my friends that I went to the protest and I helped people with little money keep that money.”
Then there were the children who came not to protest, but to watch others do so.
Sam, a third grader from Long Island whose father asked not to disclose the family’s surname because he is “one of the enemies here,” visited to take pictures of the protesters camped at the park.
Sam said he found it “kind of funny” that “there are so many people here and some people slept here.”
“I came because I like taking the subway,” he said.