"You are out of order, sir!" Gordon Crovitz, former publisher of the Wall Street Journal, had just interrupted Community Board 1's Executive Committee discussion with shouts of "Take responsibility!" and had to be silenced by board's chair Julie Menin. Crovitz was one of the six public speakers who spoke out against Occupy Wall Street at last night's meeting, as opposed to the 21 others who praised the movement. A resolution that limits loud noise to two hours a day, arranges access to off-site bathrooms for the protesters and "opposes the use of excessive and unnecessary force by the City of New York and/or Brookfield properties to address this situation" was enthusiastically passed.
Not that there weren't concerns raised by CB members, namely, that if they limited the use of "drums, trumpets, tambourines, bugles, air horns, shouting and chanting, and all other sources of noise to two hours per day," there was no guarantee of enforcement or whether or not the protesters would go back on their word. Indeed, despite last week's CB 1 resolution to limit noise to two hours, the General Assembly and a separate drumming group, Pulse, agreed on four.
"I'm not here to cater and negotiate, I'm here to make change," drummer Elijiah Moses said last night. Moses spoke during the public forum and claimed to be a member of Pulse. "I heard they're trying to control the drummers, and that's sad…You have to respect the fact that there is a community within this community." When boardmembers suggested that they change the resolution to read "four hours," Menin strongly advised that the resolution remain "to let them know how we feel, and to see how they respond."
After one boardmember decried the "anarchy and mob rule" in Zuccotti Park, and claimed that it was "rife with crime," another stood up to note that unlike some Tea Party rallies, no one is armed to the teeth, and that none of the protesters have been implicated in acts of violence. Shortly before the vote, the discussion turned to allowing a section of the park to be free of protesters and "open to the public." There were a few audible groans at the prospect of hashing out the amendment, but there seemed to be sizable support for it and it was vowed that the board would take up the matter soon.
"If the protesters can rope off a sections for kids and parents for a day, they can do it for the public," Pat Moore, chairwoman of the Quality of Life Committee told us. Moore has been a fair, if frustrated mediator over the course of 11 meetings concerning the noise and sanitation surrounding Zuccotti Park. Would she be willing to go through another 11 meetings to see it happen? "We have to. And this resolution? This is only the beginning. This is not over."
Asked if such a concession was possible, 24-year-old Daniel Adash said, "It's possible, although I really don't know how." Adash, a former Syracuse student, had quit his jobs and joined the movement several weeks ago. He briefly spoke to thank CB 1 "For welcoming me into your community." "We do need to get better organized to create a safer space," he said. "And we're working very hard at it."
At around 9 p.m. last night, the park was absent of drumming. One lone tambourine player on Liberty Street shook his instrument to a muted acoustic guitar. The park was quiet.