Occupying Boston with the kids

mark shanahan/globe staff

WHO: Globe reporter Mark Shanahan and his daughter, Julia

WHERE: Dewey Square

WHAT: Visiting Occupy Boston


“They’re just like us except they’re living in tents in a park downtown,’’ I said, knowing instantly that wasn’t going to fly.

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“I’ve seen pictures, Daddy,’’ said Julia. “They’re not just like us. And if they are, why don’t we live in a tent in a park downtown?’’

D’oh! Clearly, it was time to visit Dewey Square so my 11-year-old daughter could see for herself what Occupy Boston is all about, to hear what the protesters are saying about “corporate greed’’ and “income disparity,’’ and maybe to get a few ideas for our next camping trip to Baxter State Park.

Julia doesn’t know yet who Eugene Debs is, but she did just read “Uprising,’’ a book about three friends caught in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, and she has great empathy for have-nots. Strike while the iron is hot, I figured, even if it means exposing her to people eating Chex Mix with a fork.

We stopped by on a warm fall afternoon, and I pointed out the towering and ominous-looking Federal Reserve Bank building across the street. It was no coincidence, I explained, that the protesters had pitched their tents and tarps in the shadow of this steely monolith to money. We arrived as Harvey Wasserman, a well-known activist sometimes credited with coining the phrase “No Nukes,’’ was giving a tutorial on social movements of the past, and the people who inspired - or obstructed - them.


“Gee, he really doesn’t like Woodrow Wilson,’’ whispered Julia.

A small crowd had gathered to listen, and there were a couple of police officers standing nearby, but they looked more bored than menacing. We wandered amid the tents, clutching a copy of the Boston Occupier newspaper, before Julia paused to look at a sculpture of Gandhi and at a sign that read, “The first act of disobedience is contemplation.’’

Whether this protest yields the desired result - I admit I had some difficulty explaining just what that is - Julia and I talked about the importance of thinking for herself and, if necessary, not taking a shower for a few days. (Julia said she might live in a tent as long as all of her friends could join her.) We stayed to listen to Peter Tosh’s son, Tosh1, sing a few songs and then it was off to Lucky’s for a very un-Occupy brunch of cheeseburgers and Frank Sinatra.

Mark Shanahan can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MarkAShanahan