NYC Drum Cricle

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Arun Gupta:

"What was about to kill the most successful American activist movement in decades? The drum circle.

Drummers possessed with a Dionysian fervor were demanding that they be allowed to pound their bongos and congas late into the night because they were the “heartbeat of this movement.” In response, a letter circulated with the dramatic warning that “OWS is over after Tuesday.” With equal doses of Middle East diplomacy and Burning Man theatrics, the writer explained that weeks of negotiations between a drummers’ working group called Pulse, the OWS General Assembly and the local community board had collapsed.

The rogue drummers did not recognize the GA as a legitimate body whose decisions they had to obey. In fact, some drummers turned Occupy Wall Street’s rhetoric against itself, claiming that the GA “suppressed people’s opinions” and were “becoming the government we’re trying to protest.” A compromise was eventually reached to allow two hours of drumming in the middle of the day, but everyone I spoke to afterward confirmed that one of the most powerful American social movements in years was nearly undone, not by its political message, but by its rhythm section.

“That was an important test of whether the General Assembly actually had authority over people, or whether it was more like a suggestion box for a collection of autonomous individuals,” observes Nathan Schneider, a writer who has been chronicling Occupy Wall Street since its beginnings last summer.

The drummers actually did the movement a favor. For nearly every Occupy movement in the United States, the General Assembly is seen as the legitimate decision-making body. But when it comes time to enforce a decision that some disagree with, its authority is often called into question. Nearly every significant conflict that has cropped up in Occupy movements around the country rests on the bedrock issues of authority, accountability, representation and legitimacy." (