UPDATE (12:44 AM): Crisis averted: tonight at the General Assembly, the working group of drummers, Pulse, in a spirit of conciliation and generosity, brought forward a proposal to limit their drumming from 12 to 2 and 4 to 6 PM only. The proposal had been worked out through weeks of mediation with the direct action working group. It was considered a first step toward showing the community board that the community in Zuccotti Park can regulate itself. The proposal was approved by consensus by the General Assembly, with applause and rejoicing on all sides. One of our observers said there hadn’t been such happiness and relief since the victory over eviction.
A trusted friend and respected activist sent the following notes, explaining that the Occupy movement may be about to lose Zuccotti Park and that a much larger presence is needed starting tonight.
OWS is over after Tuesday:
Friends, mediation with the drummers has been called off. It has gone on for more than 2 weeks and it has reached a dead end. The drummers formed a working group called Pulse and agreed to 2 hrs/day at times during the mediation, and more recently that changed to 4 hrs/day. It’s my feeling that we may have a fighting chance with the community board if we could indeed limit drumming and loud instrumentation to 12-2 PM and 4-6 PM, however that isn’t what’s happening.
Last night the drumming was near continuous until 10:30 PM at night. Today it began again at 11 AM. The drummers are fighting among themselves, there is no cohesive group. There is one assemblage called Pulse that organized most of the drummers into a group and went to GA for formal recognition and with a proposal.
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.
Whether or not you personally feel that the support of the community board and local residents and their reps is needed to maintain our occupation, many of us believe that maintaining Liberty Square (aka Zuccotti Park) as a flagship and nerve center for our movement right now is in fact critical to our efforts that are much bigger picture, longer term, more revolutionary than the internal conflicts that are consuming too much energy right now.
We need to take this seriously, and be clear that if we can’t deal with conflict and self-organizing then we are facing eviction very soon (this week), and the allies that helped turn out mass numbers at the last one will not be around this time, nor will the press be supportive. Additionally, Bloomberg released a statement a few days ago that said that he/the City plans to crack down on any violations as of this week. Once we lose community and ally support at Tuesday’s vote, the door is wide open for an eviction. What to do? We need an all hands-on-deck clean-up and everyone sharing responsibility for the Good Neighbor Policy, including enforcement of 12–2 PM and 4–6 PM drumming hours. (While recognizing that the community board has been firm that they can only support 2 hrs/day of drumming). We should also start serious conversations internally about what this movement might I look like without Zuccotti Park/Liberty Square. How can we set ourselves up for continued organizing and momentum without an active occupation? I don’t write this to be dramatic, it’s a serious question. If so much of our organizing time currently (for many of us, 20 hrs a day) is going to putting out fires and maintaining the space, what does it look like if we lose the space?
The drummers who are on site today are the drummers who have self-organized into an OWS working group they’re calling Pulse. They have been involved in mediation. They are not willing to limit drumming to 2 hours, but they are willing to do 12–2 PM and 4–6 PM daily. It is our hope that that will count for something with the community board.
In the meantime, there are other drummers who refuse to acknowledge OWS or the GA as a body they are interested in, and these drummers show up on site when they fell like it and drum when they feel like it. Over the weekend, it was for 10 or 11 hours straight, until late night.
So in the meantime, while we are grateful for the negotiations and positive relations with Pulse, we recognize that the issue of whether we’re evicted over drumming or not remains. For that reason we are asking for people to show up during quiet hour shifts, to ensure that drumming does not start.
Here’s a call that went out:
We’re in serious need of bodies here. The drumming will happen daily from 12-2 and 4-6pm, that’s OK. But that means that we need folks in these shifts:
2-4 PM: people here to make sure drumming doesn’t start
5:45–8 PM: ppl here to make sure drumming stops at 6 PM sharp and doesn’t start again
8–10 PM: ppl here to make sure drumming doesn’t start
This is an all-call. Really really need help, tonight. There are some fabulous drummers here who have been in mediation with OWS and the community board for weeks. There are a small handful of drummers who have been violent, agro, and committed to playing as loud as they can, for as long as they can (until 11 PM this weekend).
Tomorrow night is the community board meeting, they are logging when they hear drumming and keeping a record. If we can show that we’ve made progress in implementing the Good Neighbor Policy that limits drumming then they won’t call for our eviction (they in fact have been bending over backwards to support and defend us). If we can’t get support here tonight at 6pm, or tomorrow, then we are facing an eviction vote at tomrorow’s meeting, in front of all the cameras, and we lose the electeds and allies who’ve gone to bat for us.
This is a final ditch effort as it’s been weeks of false promises and failed enforcement, so we may be close to the end of OWS over this issue this week, but we have a fighting chance!
December 5, 2011: A previous version of this post contained unconfirmed personal information, which has been removed.