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Occupy Wall Street Protesters Are Too Noisy, Residents Say

By Julie Shapiro | September 28, 2011 10:57am

LOWER MANHATTAN — The Occupy Wall Street protesters are quickly wearing out their welcome in lower Manhattan, sleep-deprived residents said this week.

After 10 days of dealing with protesters' late-night drums and hollering chants — along with the extra police barricades and overcrowded sidewalks — residents said at a Community Board 1 meeting Tuesday night that they have had enough.

"We do not deserve this," said Ro Sheffe, chairman of CB1's Financial District Committee, whose apartment overlooks the protesters' campground at Zuccotti Park. 

"We are still recovering from September 11th. We did not cause the global [financial] collapse, and keeping us awake late at night…is not going to solve it."

Sheffe said he has heard from neighbors whose children wake up crying in the middle of the night because they are frightened by the noise.

The community near the World Trade Center site has already had to deal with round-the-clock construction and 9/11-anniversary-related disruptions, and the last thing anyone needed was more commotion, Sheffe said.

Beyond just the noise, Andrew Berks, a Wall Street resident, said it was nearly impossible to navigate the blocks around his home, which are ringed in metal barriers and new security checkpoints that he called "overkill."

"It's a huge inconvenience to the residents, tourists and workers in the area," Berks said.

Justin Wedes, a representative of the Occupy Wall Street protesters, attended Tuesday's meeting and said the group "wants to work amicably with the community for the time we are here."

In response, a woman who lives on Liberty Street called out: "Then quiet down please, because I can't sleep!"

Prior to the meeting, several Community Board 1 members drafted a resolution calling on the city and Brookfield Properties, the owner of Zuccotti Park, to shut down the protest.

However, CB1 Chairwoman Julie Menin urged the board not to vote on the resolution Tuesday night, because it had not gone through the usual process of a committee hearing earlier in the month.

Menin said it would be more productive to work with the Mayor's Office and the protesters, rather than passing the strongly worded resolution.

Most of the board agreed with Menin and voted 23 to 14 to table the resolution, which means it will likely be debated at the next Financial District Committee meeting Oct. 5.

Tiffany Winbush, 29, a Wall Street resident and CB1 member, said she was torn between wanting to support the protesters' rights and wanting to solve the quality-of-life problems they have brought to her neighborhood.

"I want them to have the right to protest, but they to have the ability to work with their neighbors," said Winbush, who ultimately voted to table the anti-protest resolution.  

After the meeting, Wedes said Occupy Wall Street was open to changing some of its practices, including the noisy late-night gatherings.

"We want to be good neighbors," he said. "We want to work out these issues."