We brought our children to a peaceful protest, we stayed in the back and we were walking on the sidewalk. The march stopped at the intersection of 2nd and Alder we could not see why from our position on the SW corner of the intersection. Police quickly moved up behind us and a moment or two later sprayed pepper spray into the crowd from the NE corner of the intersection. the crowd ran toward us to escape the spray. We asked the oficer closest to us how we should exit the intersection. He pointed and said to exit to the NE, into the spraying police opposite him. as the crowd pressed toward us I yelled to him to let us through (south on 2nd) because we had three small children. He looked at me, and drew out his can from his hip and sprayed directly at me. I was at an angle to him and the spray hit my right eye and our three year-old who I was holding in my right arm. In the same motion he turned the can on my wife who was holding our 10 month old baby and doused both of their heads entirely from a distance of less than 3 feet. my six year old daughter was holding my left hand and was not hit directly. We ended up on the sidewalk a few feet down alder with fellow protesters holding my screaming children and and pouring water on our eyes. Someone yelled that the police had said that we could pass through the cordon on alder with the children. I picked up the baby and other protesters brought my wife and other children to the police line. We attempted to pass through but they leaned in shoulders to block us. I yelled at them to let us pass for about two minutes and finally some officer up the line nodded me and the baby through. they were not going to let my wife and other children out but after a few minutes of pleading from the crowd and another signal from up the line they let them out. As we passed the officers were laughing and said something to the effect of "thats why you shouldn't bring kids to protests".
...On the way to the E.R. my three year old said that those guys back there were trying to get us and said we should call the police.
I'm really conflicted about the idea of bringing kids to protests. I strongly believe that each parent knows their children best, and I do not want to judge other parents for the choices that they have made (and I really hope any comments on this post are self-reflective rather than judging) but I've been trying to figure out whether or not I would want to bring my children to a protest.
On the one hand, wow, what an awesome way to teach children the power of people standing up for what they believe in. On the other hand...I believe in consent, and I'm not sure at what age a child is cognizant enough of these things to give consent. I imagine it's different for different children, which is probably why I hesitate to judge parents who know their children better than I do. On ANOTHER hand, a peaceful protest SHOULD be a place where children are safe, and perhaps it is intentional that parents feel intimidated bringing children to protests (what a huge segment of the population to keep under control this way!)
Right now, I know that my husband feels very strongly that our children do NOT belong at protests, and I honor that because I don't feel strongly enough to the contrary. I'm curious what the blogsisters think about this.
Let me just reiterate that I'm interested in your feelings for your own family, and I really hope whatever discussion ensues does not revolve around second guessing the choices of other parents.