The most pervasive sound at Zuccotti Park, and one of the neighbors' biggest complaints, is that of a group of drummers pounding the skins, and organizers now fear their inability to rein in the constant drumming will kill what support they've gotten and move the park's owners to ask police to clear them out. The occupation reached a compromise at its General Assembly on Monday night, with the drummers agreeing to limit their playing to four hours a day (from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.), but it's not the first time the occupiers have reached an agreement on limiting the drumming, and the fear now is that neighbors, already skeptical of the camp's ability to regulate itself, will decide at Tuesday night's meeting of Community Board 1 that they can't put up with it any longer.
The Zuccotti encampment had passed a regulation on Oct. 13 to limit the drumming to two hours a day, but drummers ignored it. Some neighbors at a community board meeting last week expressed skepticism that the encampment could regulate its percussion section. As one "trusted friend and respected activist" explained to the literary magazine n+1, the community support is crucial to keeping police off the back of the encampment.
At this point we have lost the support of allies in the Community Board and the state senator and city electeds who have been fighting the city to stave off our eviction, get us toilets, etc. On Tuesday there is a Community Board vote, which will be packed with media cameras and community members with real grievances. We have sadly demonstrated to them that we are unable to collectively 1) keep our space and surrounding areas clean and sanitary, 2) keep the park safe, 3) deal with internal conflict and enforce the Good Neighbor Policy that was passed by the General Assembly.
The city backed off a plan to clear protesters out of the park earlier this month, in part because the protesters had the support of local politicians and the community. If they lose that, Zuccotti Park owner Brookfield Office Properties would have far less political opposition to asking the police to clear the protesters out. The problem is, the drummers don't necessarily go along with the general assembly. "This may have been because the drummers did not attend the GA and therefore did not know a consensus had been reached. This sucks for the drummers," one organizer said at last week's community board meeting, according to Firedog Lake. A thread on the group's organizing website nycga.net calls the drummers "poisonous," and from the description n+1's source gave of one disruptive individual, that's pretty apt in some cases:
Unfortunately there is one individual who is NOT a drummer but who claims to speak for the drummers who has been a deeply disruptive force, attacking the drumming rep during the GA and derailing his proposal, and disrupting the community board meeting, as well as the OWS community relations meeting. She has also created strife and divisions within the POC caucus, calling many members who are not ‘on her side’ “Uncle Tom”, “the 1%”, “Barbie” “not Palestinian enough” “Wall Street politicians” “not black enough” “sell-outs”, etc. People have been documenting her disruptions, and her campaign of misinformation, and instigations. She also has a documented history online of defamatory, divisive and disruptive behavior within the LGBT (esp. transgender) communities. Her disruptions have made it hard to have constructive conversations and productive resolutions to conflicts in a variety of forums in the past several days.
The drummers have already injected some conflict into the occupation as their working group, Pulse, requested money for new drums after a vandal destroyed some last week, and was denied. They see themselves as a really important part of the movement, as one drummer told Daily Intel last week: "Drumming is the heartbeat of this movement. Look around: This is dead, you need a pulse to keep something alive," drummer Shane Engelerdt said. They also bring in cash, about $150 to $300 a day, of which the occupation organizers take half. "One certainly does not want to see drumming be what brings Occupy Wall Street to an end," wrote Firedoglake's Kevin Goszstola in his account of last week's community board meeting. But if drummers don't knock it off once in a while, it very easily could.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.