Residents who live near Zuccotti Park, where “Occupy Wall Street” protesters have been camping for over a month, gathered with demonstrators for a community board meeting Thursday to address issues of noise and hygiene around the neighborhood. NY1’s Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.
Nearly every day, “Occupy Wall Street” protesters take on a different target with the same attack. On Thursday, they tackled Walmart and, as always, corporate greed.
For some neighbors, though, it all sounds the same.
“This has been a nightmare,” said Brian Summers, who lives near Zuccotti Park.
Summers said those trying to force corporations to become better corporate citizens should learn to be better citizens themselves.
“It makes us feel horrible. We work down here, we live down here,” said Summers.
Drums are played each and every day. The noise registers as 117 on a decibel meter.
According to the federal government, regular exposure to 110 decibels can lead to permanent hearing loss.
From blocks away, it might not be physically harmful, but neighbors say it's damaging lives.
“We support the message, and a lot of residents do, but they also want to have a good night sleep,” said Manhattan City Councilmember Margaret Chin.
Local officials have been swamped with neighborhood complaints.
That's why they invited protesters to hear them firsthand at a Community Board 1 meeting Thursday.
Besides the noise problem, residents say protesters are pouring urine in the streets.
“Our neighbors do not urinate and defecate in the street. These occupiers need to vacate our neighborhood,” said one resident.
“We really, really want to be good neighbors. We want to be involved with the community here,” said Tyler Combelic, an “Occupy Wall Street” protester.
“Occupy Wall Street” leaders say this meeting, where they talked about limiting drumming time, is a good start towards improving relations and that they will continue work at it.
“Ninety percent of the people here are doing everything in their power to follow those rules. We can’t stop the actions of every individual in the park,” said Combelic.
As a result, “Occupy Wall Street” protest organizers say they want to get port-a-potties on flatbeds and pay for them with donated money to fix the ongoing bathroom problems. They have not set a timeline on that, however.
Despite complaints, members of Community Board 1 did say they would uphold the demonstrators' right to protest.
"It was critical to uphold one of the fundamental freedoms the country has and also address the rights of community residents and small businesses, as the two are in no way mutually exclusive," said Julie Menin, chairperson of CB1.
Board members said they understand the message of the protests but asked that demonstrators be respectful of surrounding residents. To that end, they're asking for protesters to limit the time they spend drumming, chanting and playing instruments.
They also want the area around Zuccotti Park to be kept sanitary.
The full board will meet for a vote on Tuesday. While it's unclear exactly what will come of it, the move will formalize the board's complaints against and suggestions for the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters.