Hundreds of Families Join Occupy General Strike

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 Carrying "Occupy our Future" posters colored in bright blues, greens and pinks, about 300 children and parents marched in their own Occupy Oakland parade on Wednesday afternoon in solidarity with the day's general strike.

"We're here because we are part of the 99 percent and we are definitely affected by the economy right now," said Beth Dougherty of Oakland at the 3 p.m. rally with her two daughters. "I want my kids to be part of it because we've got to say this is enough."

Asked what audience she hoped will receive that message, Dougherty said, "the government, the state of California, Wall Street, corporations and banks."

Her daughter Bella said the best part was seeing so many kids and friends at the rally.

And indeed there were a lot of children. By 3:30 p.m., nearly 400 people had gathered on the south lawn of the Oakland Public Library at 14th Street and Madison. Many, like Bella, had come after they attended school.

Toddlers were in even greater attendance than school children, arriving in strollers or carried on their parents' backs.

"Juniper is 1-and-a-half years old and she knows how to share. So we say share! Share! Share!" shouted Mimi Ho, echoing one of the main sentiments of the Occupy movement: that the 1 percent needs to share more of its wealth with the 99 percent.

After listening to speeches by various parents about their dreams for their children and fears that those dreams would be quashed by recession and an inegalitarian society, the gathering marched to Frank Ogawa Plaza - which Occupiers have renamed "Oscar Grant Plaza" - with elementary school children leading the march. They carried a long banner painted with the words "General Strike Children's Brigade." Once at the plaza, however, only a small number of families stuck around for the 5 p.m. march to the port.

At another family rally at noon Wednesday, singer and songwriter Stephanie Pepitone of Oakland sang "The More we Get Together," and then the famous James Brown soul song "I Feel Good."

She then explained what she hoped her 4-year-old would remember from the day.

"That we have rights in this community and we believe in the values of equality and sharing," Pepitone said.