The Occupy Wall Street protests continue to remain on the forefront of the minds of people in New York City, as well as across the world. Tired and frustrated with the downward economic spiral, on September 17, 2011, a protest was held in Wall Street’s financial district, engaging those in the “99%” in a fight against the 1% of the population that is said to control 40% of the wealth in the United States. From marches through the streets and a sea of homemade signs, to an ever-present rhythm from drummers in Zuccoti Park and throughout Liberty Square, the Occupy Wall Street protests have spurred on a global fight, as well as a unique challenge to its uniting drum beat.
The use of drums and practice of drumming has long been a rallying point in many peaceful protests. With its roots in communication across distances and within tribes, communities and military installations, drumming has been a long standing tradition in the history of protests and political movements. The Occupy Wall Street protests are no different in this sense. The use of drums is not only bringing people together, regardless of age, gender, race or religion in New York City, but the drums are also being used to strengthen those bonds across smaller communities around the world. From Djembe drums to Congas, Bass Drums to Timbales, this drumming has become, in a sense, a symbol of the unity of the OWS movement on a global scale.
Unfortunately, as Liberty Square is nearby several residential areas, the noise level from the drummers and musicians has come under fire. The residents surrounding Liberty Square have complained about the early-morning and late-night drumming and music that is coming from the protestors. In the meantime, drummers have had their drums stolen or vandalized, while being told that their ever-present contribution to the movement can only be heard during set hours. Like many other OWS protestors, the drummers within the movement have begun a protest-within-the-protest, claiming they are owed for the value that their stolen or damaged drums, since these very instruments that have helped encourage and unite the entire movement. This group of drummers, Pulse, continues to fight for their own rights within the protest – to be heard, without prejudice, while still maintaining a cooperative presence within the OWS movement ranks.
Drumming is a unifying art that brings people together through an ability to reach beyond appearances and demographics, deep into the heart and soul of those touched by its essence. While the protests against the economic disparity in the U.S. continue, the Occupy Wall Street movement has a strong Pulse ready to keep the momentum alive. Respecting the lives and contributions of all people is a message that continues to define these protests, and from the drummers to the unemployed or those struggling through these hard economic times, the unifying strength that comes from a drum beat can make all the difference.