By GINGER ADAMS OTIS | NY Post | 12:53 PM, October 23, 2011
Some drummers — incensed they got no money to replace or safeguard their drums after a midnight vandal destroyed their instruments Wednesday — are threatening to splinter off.
“F–k Finance. I hope Mayor Bloomberg gets an injunction and demands to see the movement’s books. We need to know how much money we really have and where it’s going,” said a frustrated Bryan Smith, 45, who joined OWS in Lower Manhattan nearly three weeks ago from Los Angeles, where he works in TV production.
Smith is a member of the Comfort Working Group — one of about 30 small collectives that have sprung up within OWS. The Comfort group is charged with finding out what basic necessities campers need, like thermal underwear, and then raising money by soliciting donations on the street.
“The other day, I took in $2,000. I kept $650 for my group, and gave the rest to Finance. Then I went to them with a request — so many people need things, and they should not be going without basic comfort items — and I was told to fill out paperwork. Paperwork! Are they the government now?” Smith fumed, even as he cajoled the passing crowd for more cash.
The Finance Committee dives on whatever dollars are raised by all the OWS working groups, said Smith, and doesn’t give it back.
The Comfort group has an allowance of $150 a day, while larger working groups, like the Kitchen group, get up to $2,000.
“What can I do with $150?” said Smith. “We have three tons of wet laundry here from the rainstorm — how do I get that done? We need winter gear, shoes, socks. I could spend $10,000 alone for backpacks people need. We raise all this money. Where is it?”
Pete Dutro, 36, a Brooklyn tattoo artist who is getting a master’s in finance and sits on the Finance Committee, said big purchases like Smith’s can’t get immediate approval.
“We don’t have the power for that. They have to go to the General Assembly. If it’s approved, we pay out that amount and make sure everything is accounted for,” he said.
Within the next few days, the Financial Committee will release a detailed report, he said.
Yesterday, a huge flat-screen TV went up in Zuccotti Park for a movie night and pajama party with popcorn. Organizers hoped it would attract new recruits — even as some long-timers complained that the movement was getting too diffuse after yesterday’s lackluster showing at a police-brutality event in Union Square that barely attracted 50 participants.
“I think it’s getting too spread out,” said John Glowa, 57. “My sense from where I live is that it’s losing steam. We gotta plug the holes.”
Some activists, like those in Pulse, the committee that represents Zuccotti Park drummers, are a bit worn out by all the collective activity.
Last week, on a rainy night, someone stabbed holes in many of the protesters’ drums with a knife, said Elijah Moses, 19, of Queens, a founder of the Pulse Working Group. Moses asked the General Assembly — the nightly meeting where protesters collectively vote on OWS decisions — for $8,000 to replace the drums, and build a small shed to lock them up.
“They said no — they turned us down. I’m really frustrated,” said Moses.