Protestors, C.B. 1 have dialogue

It’s been over two weeks since the Occupy Wall Street protestors first showed up at Zuccotti Park. Last week, some of them attended Community Board 1’s full board meeting in an effort to start a dialogue with local residents. Downtown Express photo by Cynthia Magnus

BY CYNTHIA MAGNUS  |  “I think we established a dialogue,” said Pat Moore, chair of Community Board 1’s Quality of Life Committee, about an informal meeting held on October 3 with some members of the Occupy Wall Street group who are camped in Zuccotti Park. The purpose was to discuss ways in which relations between the Downtown community and the protesters might be eased.

At the C.B.1 full board meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 27, Financial District committee chair Ro Sheffe introduced a proposed resolution during the new business session. It suggested that the board urge the mayor’s office to address the disruptions to area residents and local businesses caused by the occupation. It proposed that park owner Brookfield Properties take measures to re-open space in the park for use by local residents and workers, for the NYPD to enforce existing noise control laws, and for the Board of Health to designate the Financial District as a noise sensitive zone.

The issue was tabled until the committee’s public meeting on Oct. 5, to give members time for further discussion. A member of the Occupy Wall Street group’s community relations committee, Justin Wedes, was among those invited to attend the informal Oct. 3 afternoon meeting.

Sheffe said he raised four main issues related to the occupation: noise disruption, pedestrian and vehicular disruption, sanitation, and dual use for the occupiers and local park users. Sheffe said it was important for the protesters to understand the background of the community, which has grown by 300 percent in ten years.

“They are surrounded by people who are raising families in this neighborhood, not the barons of Wall Street,” said Sheffe.

The C.B.1 committee requested that the protesters remove the drummers which currently play in Zuccotti. One of the protesters suggested that the drummers might move to the southernmost area of Battery Park.

At the occupiers “general assembly” session held later on Oct. 3 they voted to pass Wedes’ proposal to change “quiet hours” from 11 p.m. to 10 p.m. They also voted to ask C.B.1 to support the group’s application to the NYPD for a sound permit that would allow the use of a megaphone in the park.

At the Sept. 29 1st Precinct Community Council meeting it was explained to the several protesters in attendance that the NYPD cannot issue a sound permit without permission from the owner of the property.

One protester named Katie complained about the way earlier arrests were handled, but noted that police have been “mostly helpful.” Another protester said that Occupy Wall Street is a decentralized organization and asked about the best way to have a discourse with NYPD.

Inspector Edward Winski said, “My community affairs guys have gone into the crowd since day one, and can’t find anyone to speak to. When there’s a leadership structure, we sit down and work it out.”

Wedes said that it is “in everyone’s interest” for the group to be approved for the sound permit, as the nightly general assembly meetings in the park would go faster, and that “a low megaphone would actually be quieter than the ‘people’s mic’ – a system in which a speaker’s statement is repeated loudly by the crowd so that everyone can hear.

Ted, a member of the protester community, stated his personal opinion when asked if the need for a megaphone might be eliminated if the drummers stopped playing during general assembly. Currently participants must shout over the drums. “It doesn’t make sense for people to be disruptive during GA,” he said, “It also means that the people at G.A. are missing the drum circle.”

Wedes said he does not think it is “plausible” to ask the drum circle to remove themselves from Zuccotti. “We want them with us. Maybe if we all move to Battery Park – we are getting bigger.”

Liberty Street residents Tony and Carla said that they and their children have lost all access to the park, which they say has been defaced and filled with garbage. “The city planners are making living here impossible,” said Carla. “After September 11 they said, ‘Come live down here.’ They have to provide residents some better level of protection and recognition.”

One produce vendor at the Tuesday green market at Zuccotti Park said that his business has been down by about 10 percent since the occupation. “The neighborhood business that usually comes, we’re not seeing them,” he said.

Aly, whose cart on Cedar Street sells only breakfast items said his business has been down by 40 percent since the occupation. He said his customers usually come through the park, and he usually sells out and leaves by 1 p.m. Now he stays longer to try to make money.

Cox, a WTC construction site worker, said he buys his breakfast daily at Aly’s cart, but that it is time-consuming now to walk around the park to reach it. “There should be a walkway through the park so we can get through,” he said.

The manager at one local fast food restaurant told the campers last week that they were unwelcome to occupy tables and use the toilets. He said they use the electric outlets for their devices, something that was always prohibited, and that the restrooms were defaced with stickers and graffiti. “Lots of tourists come to visit the [9/11] Memorial and want to relax and have lunch,” he said.

CouncilmemberMargaret Chin said, “My office is handling quality of life issues as they arise, and I urge all residents who are affected by the protests to contact my office.”

Chin’s spokesperson Kelly Magee said it would be helpful if constituents would forward any 311 complaint numbers to Chin’s office so they could follow up on them.

Protest supporter Vincent, a Greenwich Village resident, does not sleep in Zuccotti Park, but donated $1,000 online to Occupy Wall Street. Local worker Lucille said she hears the occupiers’ chants from her office across Broadway, but that it is not disruptive.

“I think it’s wonderful. I hope something really good comes out of it,” said Lucille.

The C.B.1 Financial District committee meeting is set for 6 p.m. Oct. 5, at 49-51 Chambers Street, Room 709.

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10 Responses to Protestors, C.B. 1 have dialogue

  1. It's supposed to make life inconvenient for people! An occupation isn't going to be all sunshine and roses. If you want the occupation to be over, contact your politicians, and news media and help resolve the issues we're occupying for!u00a0nGuess what New Yorkers, IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT YOU!

    • What an incredibly dumb and selfish comment from MikkiCZ!nu00a0nHow does aggravating the residents – your potential allies – accomplish anything but alienate you from The People? u00a0 This is something like a police plant would say, to discredit the protestors.u00a0 Are you a police plant, Mikki?nnIf you think that keeping people awake is going to change any politician's mind or persuade a Wall St crook to change stripes, you are sadly mistaken.u00a0 Many of these residents support you.u00a0 Why aggravate them?u00a0 nnYou wanna aggravate someone?u00a0 Go to Bloomberg's home or the president of NYSE or NASDAQ or Goldman Sachs or Merril Lynch, and keep them awake at night.u00a0 They are the enemy, not some working artistu00a0 like Pat Moore.nnShame on you.u00a0 You are a disgrace to the Working Left!nnnnu00a0

  2. The nature of the Occupy Wallstreeters is to be commended.u00a0 This group is certainly putting others first just in how they care to "improve" the conditions for others at the protest.u00a0 You've got our respect for that and that's a headstart for having others listen before they criticize.u00a0 KUDOS.

  3. These protesters are NOT hurting the bankers or those in power. They are hurting the mom and pop businesses that are scraping by after 9-11. Wall Street has been effectively closed , alright, but not for the brokers and barons of industry, but for the pizza shop and shoe repair place on Exchange Street, the deli on Cedar Street and the bar on Trinity Place. All locally owned, by "the middle class" that these people say they represent.u00a0nnWhy don't they go to Greenwich, CT where the bankers live? Or Midtown where they all work? u00a0Because, that takes real guts and they know they will last 5 minutes there.nnHere's a though, Susan Sarandon, how about a camp in your West Village Townhouse? There is more "banking wealth" on West 12th Street than all of downtown.nnDowntown is a residential neighborhood that has little to do with Finance anymore. Misdirected, spoiled, aimless and twitter-fed, this leaderless group is killing the exact group of merchants and urban families that are fighting to keep downtown alive.nnThis needs to end.u00a0nnTAKE BACK ZUCCOTI PARK FOR DOWNTOWN!u00a0

    • Not only should this end, it had no purpose to begin with.u00a0 This is reminiscent of the 60's.u00a0 The park should be cleared and the protestors sent packing.

  4. Many of us who live downtown support Occupy Wall Street. u00a0Let's keep working together to iron out the rough spots and mitigate the problems that arise (noise, disruption to merchants, park use, etc.) u00a0

    • I can guarantee you are in the minority. This movement is from everywhere BUT NYC and is targeted at an entity that needs controlling from outside of the neighborhood (like , um Washington DC, not Church Street).nnIf these folks believe in democracy how about a vote by the "99%" of the neighborhood they don't represent as to whether we want them here or not?nn THEY are the 1% ruining our neighborhood, hurting local business and burning up tax dollars that could be used for schools, and firehouses as opposed to babysitting a bunch of college brats on "fall break".nnnn

  5. So many people are frustrated byu00a0nthe way the political process has been controlled by big money.nThis movement is a reaction to years of this frustration and miserynand I think Occupy Wall Street u00a0certainly has a point, many points.nBut on the other hand,nthe downtown community has dealt w frustration and misery for years.nStarting in 1993 with the first bombing and then the 9/11 attack,nu00a0then the non stop roadwork, noise and disruptions. Many of us moved downnhere years ago b/c it was inexpensive and rather quietnbut after 911 that all changed.nWe have had enough misery and frustration, for a lifetime.nTook the community workingnwith the 911 u00a0responders 7 years to help pass the Zadroga Bill and it still does notncover cancer, which a number of people down here suffer from.nThis is the landscape these protesters have entered.nThe big biz don't care, they all leave at night and they are notu00a0neven really down here anymore.nWe are here, those of us who have made this community what it is.nOccupy Wall Street needs to understand andu00a0nwork with the community and determine a time and manner to moveu00a0non while preserving their mission.nI do not think that is a lot to ask.nnn

  6. We have had them for 3 weeks.u00a0 Now it's time for someone else to baby sit.u00a0 Any takers?u00a0 I thought not.u00a0 Lower Manhattan residents, especially those living right around this park, are sick and tired of this situation.u00a0 Yet not one party, including Brookfield, the NYPD or mayor, will take some accountability and remove them.u00a0

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