On October 21, a newspaper, The New York Post, published a story about Stacey Hessler. As the story explains, Stacey, who is 38, had come from Florida to join the Occupy Wall Street protest camp. She had grown up in Long Island, near New York City but she and her husband, Curtiss, had been raising their family in DeLand, Florida, where Curtiss works for a bank. Stacey had been interested in Occupy Wall Street from the beginning and had followed it closely on Facebook. As the days went by, she became more and more enthusiastic and, on October 9, she left her four children, aged seven to seventeen, in the care of her husband and friends and took a train to New York City.
According to the story in The New York Post, Stacey’s mother objected to her going, and her husband, the article says, was “perplexed.” The story also suggests that Stacey was romantically involved with another camper, “a young waiter from Brooklyn.” But it does say she denies this and it does say that her life in the camp was full of hard work. It tells how, on one typical day, she got up at 8:00 a.m. and went to wash up at a nearby church. Then she returned to the camp, had a light breakfast and spent two hours sorting laundry. When that work was finished she spent four hours helping to clean up the camp. Then she spent some time at the “empathy table” where protesters who were frightened or worried came for advice and comforting hugs. Late in the afternoon, she went to a meditation session, and in the evening she went to organizational meetings. The article also mentions that, by way of defending her decision to leave her family behind and join the camp, Stacey “defiantly” said, “Military people leave their families all the time so why should I feel bad? I’m fighting for a better world.”
A video accompanying the Post article shows Stacey being interviewed by a reporter from the paper. He speaks to her in a noticeably hostile tone of voice almost as if he were a police officer. Stacey answers all his questions in an open, friendly way. She seems to be completely sincere. When the reporter asks her how her family felt about her going to New York, she explains that she didn’t make her final decision until she had talked to all of them and her husband had told her he supported her and that she should go. She also says she feels that by joining the camp, she is doing something for her children: “I felt it was important for their future too.” And when she tells the reporter that her mother tried to persuade her not to go, accusing her of being selfish, she adds: “I just can’t listen to that because I know in my heart that I’m in the right place and I should be here and I’m doing the right thing.”
There is another video interview made the next day by an even more hostile reporter from Pix News who is carrying a copy of the Post article in her hand. Stacey doesn’t notice the article at first and when this reporter starts asking her more questions about her children and her husband and how her family feels, she answers patiently. But then she suddenly notices the newspaper the reporter is holding, glances at it, and angrily says, “God, now I know the article sucks!” She quickly snatches the paper from the reporter and walks away. The headline reads: “Florida banker’s wife left family to join protesters,” and the first sentence is, “A married mother of four from Florida ditched her family to become part of the raggedy mob in Zuccotti Park — keeping the park clean by day and keeping herself warm at night with the help of a young waiter from Brooklyn.”
information from: ♦ New York Post, 11.10.21 “Florida Banker’s left family to join Wall Street protesters” ♦The Daily Mail (Mail Online) (UK), 11.10.24, “ My mother told me I was being very selfish says the Florida hippie who left banker husband and four children behind to join Occupy Wall Street” ♦ WPIX, Channel 11, New York City “Mom of 4 leaves Family to “Occupy Wall Street”.