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: