Drummers at Zuccotti Park Create Test For GAs and Non-Centralized Leadership Facing the Occupy Community
OCT 27, 2011 – Drummers have played a big role in marches and rallies for years, and have been an integral part of the Occupy movement in Zuccotti Park but have unfortunately recently been the center of a "controversy" of some kind and pose an early test of the "GAs" or general assemblies that have no central leadership where every person is respected and heard when meeting to make decisions and resolve issues and disputes. In a way it is like watching a new form of democracy emerge and evolve.
It all started when residents living near Zuccotti Park held community board meetings and asked the activists to curtail the drumming. The activists held GAs, and after deliberation it was agreed to limit the drumming for 2 hours during afternoon hours. Later however drummers said they felt slighted and not heard fairly, another GA was held and it was increased from 2 hours to 4. Some drummers have even "broke off" in a way from the main group and have stated they have no intention to limit their drumming, which they feel is their free speech. One activist drummer Elijah Moses told the Wall Street Journal, “We do respect the fact that you live here, but at the same time we are still activists. I’m not here to cater and negotiate, I’m not here to play tit-for-tat,” he said forcefully, fiddling with his drumsticks in one hand. “What I am here for is to make change.”
Many people who come to Zuccotti Park love the drums and dance to them, but some who come to the park complain that it prevents and drowns out soft poetry reading, acoustic guitar playing and other softer expressions of art and activism. They have stated that the drummers are virtually impossible to talk to, because they are pounding constantly and unresponsive to people trying to approach them and talk to them. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the next few weeks. JTMP will keep you posted on this. Here is a video on the issue:
OCT 26, 2011 – Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops sings her Occupy Wall Street protest song "The Bottom 99" a cappella.
OCT 26, 2011 – Drumming was there at the inception of Occupy Wall Street, and has played a major role in the movement providing energy and passion. No doubt they will continue to play a big role in the Occupy movement, but currently they are in a struggle to find a way to secure their drumming rights at Zuccotti Park. Recently, the residents living near the park held community board meetings, and then asked Occupy activists to please curtail the drumming noise. The Occupy community was happy to oblige, and many GAs were held about the issue, and at one GA it was decided to restrict drumming to 2 hours per day during daylight hours.
However some drummers who have formed a group called "Pulse" felt they were being under-represented and have lobbied to make it 4 hours per day. The fragile compromise faces a tough test tonight at another community board meeting, where there might be more disruptions over the volatile issue. Mostly though they are currently at work talking things out and solving the problem, and at an Occupy website it says:
"In the spirit of consensus and community, mediation is still in process. The working group Pulse has been formed by the drummers and is working to bring forward proposals to the General Assembly of Liberty Square. This issue has been talked about in the park, at the General Assembly, on forums, and emails for weeks. This is an example of how we as a community share space and how we mobilize together to build consensus between all members of a conversation. Drumming has a loud voice in Liberty Square. Pulse is an important piece of our movement – they are integral to marches, morale, and the general mood of energy we have created. But many within Liberty Square feel as though their voice is being drowned out by the drumming, that it has become difficult to have the conversations that they think are important. We have created a small, vibrant and diverse community within the Square – it is natural that some issues would and will arise, but we hope to work together and continue to effect positive change in this place and in this world."
Read more here at OccupyWallST.org
Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary fame joined the Occupy Wall Street activists and sang a special version of "Puff the Magic Dragon". Peter, Paul and Mary were one of the leading activist bands in the 1960s using folk music to speak out on issues, and they played many political rallies through the years.
Yoko Ono has come out in support of Occupy Wall Street, and during her daily Q&A sessions with John's fans she has Tweeted: "John is sending his smile to Occupy Wall Street". "I am sending my love to Occupy Wall Street", "You are letting the world know that American activists are doing this. That gives them inspiration and encouragement".
OCT 25, 2011 – Rapper Jasiri X wrote a great activist song called "Occupy (We the 99)" and put together a video showing that he supports the Occupy movement. Some of the lines from the song are:
"And nobody got more welfare than Wall Street/Hundreds of billions after operatin' falsely/and nobody went to prison/that's where you lost me/but my home, my job and my life is what it cost me."
OCT 25, 2011 – Pink Martini, the activist music "orchestra" of musicians that are deeply involved and active with the local Portland, Oregon political and activist music scene will be putting on a free concert to show solidarity with the Occupy Portland activists.
Pink Martini is described on their website as "Drawing inspiration from music from all over the world – crossing genres of classical, jazz and old-fashioned pop – and hoping to appeal to conservatives and liberals alike, he founded the “little orchestra” Pink Martini in 1994 to provide more beautiful and inclusive musical soundtracks for political fundraisers for progressive causes such as civil rights, affordable housing, the environment, libraries, public broadcasting, education and parks."
The concert will be called "This Land is Your Land", at Pioneer Courthouse Square 12 noon to 1:30 on Friday, October 28, "with the purpose of providing a thinking person’s guide to the Occupy Wall Street / Occupy Portland movements." There will also be speeches from Occupy Portland activists, and Pink Martini says, "‘This Land is Our Land’ rally will be a fun and festive gathering which articulates support for Occupy Portland / Occupy Portland and inspires people to get involved in a peaceful movement for social and economic justice."
Check out the Pink Martini website here.
OCT 25, 2011 – The Quietus has a great new interview out of the musical activist Billy Bragg, and he talks Occupy, resistance and more, calling for the Occupy movement to go beyond the Internet and Facebook. He also talks about the leadership issue and urges young people to not get mired down in old political rhetoric. Here is a small excerpt below.
The Qietus – Protest and Occupation: Billy Bragg Interviewed on the Future of the Left – Kevin E.G. Perry – Oct 25, 2011
Billy Bragg: "What I can't do, despite having been asked by some people, is go down there with my guitar and become Che Guevara. My role is to try and reflect what's going on. Write about it. Old geezers like me, with our perspective, hopefully we can help to inform. Connect it with what happened in the Thirties, with Woody Guthrie, stuff like that, but they don't need me there. They're doing fine. They need me to help spread the word, through the internet and through writing songs. That's my role, and it's important that songwriters remember that. Some of the young bands say to me, when I ask them why they don't talk about this sort of thing in interviews: 'Oh, I don't know enough about politics.' How the fucking hell do you think I learned about it? I left school when I was 16! I didn't know shit about socialism until the miners' strike, but you know enough to write the songs."
"Who gives a fuck whether they're listening or not? You don't care whether people are going to read this, do you? You've gotta do it, who gives a fuck? So that impulse had to be channelled, for most people really, down that avenue. Now things have changed quite a bit. There are other ways to communicate, but I just don't think that getting a load of Facebook 'likes' is the same as getting a spontaneous reaction from an audience who are moved by something that you've sung about or put out there. You're not only making a statement, you're also creating a sense of community around that moment. That's what I think young people are missing when they think that by having a presence on the internet they're communicating. The Occupy movement knows that it goes beyond that. They understand that the internet is just a tool by which you spread the word about what you're doing. Music can do that too, but because it involves performance it has the ability to generate momentum."
"My role, and I've been trying to do this with Occupy Wall Street and the stuff I've been writing on my blog in the last couple of weeks, is to encourage them not to embrace the simplicities of Marxism. There's an opportunity to create a new and passionate political idea that is not tainted by totalitarianism, that doesn't have the shadow of the gulag over it. It's your job to do that!"
Read the whole interview on The Quietus here.
OCT 24, 2011 – L.A. musician rapper Everlast writes a song for these tough economic times singing "I barely get by" while he hits on cops, government, subprime mortgages and more.
"I Voted for some change and its kinda strange cause thats all i got in my pocket. I bought a few LEDS and I'm growing some trees its a sweet thing the DEA don't come knocking. I told y'all before that i would break the law to put food in my baby girls belly cause the senator man took a bribe in hand and shipped my job to New Delhi."
Check it out: