Photograph by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images.
Someday the Occupy Wall Street protests will end, and the only question is whether they will go out with a bang or a whimper—or a lot of loud banging followed by whimpers.
At least one organizer fears it’s the latter. An anonymous activist wrote a letter to the literary magazine N+1 on Monday warning that drum circles are causing such an outcry that it could derail the whole movement. Really.
It seems a core group of beat-niks in New York’s Zuccotti Park has been holding marathon jam sessions from mid-morning until late at night every day, punishing the eardrums of their fellow protesters and the surrounding neighborhood. Teachers at a school across the street have complained they can’t teach. And the local neighborhood community board is holding a meeting Tuesday night in which it could revoke its support of the protests if it’s not satisfied that the noise will subside.
The drummers’ refusal to be silenced has opened cracks in the leaderless movement. The general assembly that has formed to oversee the protests proposed to limit the drumming to two hours per day, but the drummers fought back. One 18-year-old drummer told New York Magazine, “They are becoming the government we’re trying to protest. They didn’t even give the drummers a say ... Drumming is the heartbeat of this movement. Look around: This is dead, you need a pulse to keep something alive.” The circles have continued.
Hence the letter to N+1 from the frustrated organizer, which begins with the ominous declaration, “OWS is over after Tuesday.” An excerpt:
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. … 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.
The saga isn’t over just yet, however. An update posted early Tuesday asserts that the crisis may be averted, since the drummers have agreed to limit their banging to two daily sessions, between noon and 2 p.m. and between 4 and 6 p.m. That’s still more than the two hours a day the community board has said it’s willing to support, though.