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OWS: Are the drummers provocateurs?

October 24, 2011

From Claire Pentecost: Re the drummers, i am reminded of Benjamin: ” Fascism sees its salvation in giving these masses not their right, but instead a chance to express themselves. The masses have a right to change property relations; Fascism seeks to give them an expression while preserving property.”
The opportunity for self expression has become the logic of most of our capture devices. among the things from which we must liberate ourselves, we should consider the injunction to express ourselves.

From Jason Jones (Monday): 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:

2-4pm people here to make sure drumming doesn’t start during this quiet slot
5:45pm – 8pm ppl here to make sure drumming stops at 6pm sharp and doesn’t start again
8pm – 10pm 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 11pm this weekend).

Tuesday 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.

Many folks are not incredibly optimistic, this is a final ditch effort, and we may be close to the end of OWS over this issue, but we have a fighting chance!

From Beka Economopoulos:

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 12-2pm and 4-6pm, however that isn’t what’s happening.

Last night the drumming was near continuous until 10:30pm at night. Today it began again at 11am. The drummers are fighting amongst 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.

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, 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.

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 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 12-2pm and 4-6pm 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?

From Jason Jones:
I’ve been trying for some time to bring attention to this issue, which i really believe is not such a simple matter. The real tragedy for me is that once the occupation is disbanded the most important lesson will be overlooked. – that the real cause for the eviction was not the drummers but was in fact the fundamentally flawed structure that made it virtually impossible to push them out.

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