Drums Silent, Occupy Wall Street Mollifies Its Neighbors

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Occupy Wall Street protesters camped at New York's Zuccotti Park won the support of the local community board on Tuesday night, but the board insisted the protesters must curb the incessant drumming and figure out their bathroom situation. The board, which represents the local neighbors and businesses, has been an important ally to the protesters who camp on public land owned by Brookfield Office Properties. The company has the final say on whether protesters stay or not, but input from local politicians and the community reportedly swayed it to cancel a planned Oct. 14 police sweep. According to the Huffington Post, Tuesday night's resolution keeps that political support in place:

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, State Sen. Daniel Squadron and City Council Member Margaret Chin immediately released a joint statement hailing the resolution as laying out a "clear path" to solving the contentious sanitary and noise issues the camp in the park has created.

If protesters want to keep the board's support, they've got to do a few simple things outlined under a resolution it passed. And the protesters have complied, mostly.

  • Curb the noise: The board's resolution states that protesters must "limit use of drums, trumpets, tambourines, bugles, air horns, shouting and chanting, and all other sources of noise to two hours per day, in midday." The drummers have not paid much atttention to a previously agreed-upon two-hour limit, but on Monday night their working group, Pulse, agreed to limit its playing to four hours, from noon to 2 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Crucially, the agreement may actually stick. "It's 6:20 and there is no drumming at #Ows. The agreement has held," tweeted organizer Max Berger.
  • Solve its bathroom problem: Lack of available facilities means people use the restrooms at many local businesses, which has led to flooding at a nearby pizza shop and a broken sink at a panini place. The board said protesters must "arrange access to bathrooms off-site, and eliminate use of retail shops and residential building doorways as bathroom facilities." Which, gross. But on Wednesday the New York Daily News reported that "organizers at the camp's 'Comfort Station' have already started handing out maps listing nearby public rest rooms, including those at Trinity Church, St. Paul's Chapel and the public Atrium at 60 Wall St." Bette Midler has also offered to buy the protesters some Porta-Pottys.
  • Stick to the good neighbor policy: The policy, ratified by the encampment's General Assembly on Oct. 13, prohibits violence, verbal abuse, drugs, and alcohol, limits the drumming, directs occupiers to try to be clean, and stipulates that a community representative will be on hand at all times. It's a little harder to quantify how the occupation is upholding this requirement, but some clues are apparent. For example, when a man came around offering to sell occupiers cocaine, they called the police. An early October report of an overnight there includes a mention that they kicked out a suspected drug user. And the community relations working group has started a thread on the NYCGA website brainstorming how to better relate to businesses who offer their bathrooms, by offering to clean them or pay them.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.