Sunday, June 18, 2006

One Group’s Noise Displaced by Another’s

Whatever the group, whatever the content, the issue at H and 8th Streets NE is about unlimited levels of amplified non-commercial speech disturbing residents and businesses. That point was exemplified yesterday.

Her calm backyard scene suddenly was punctuated with the familiar staccato sounds of yelling through an amplified loud speaker. Glancing at her watch, Jane marked the 2 p.m. start of the usual weekend noise fest at H and 8th Street NE. She prepared herself to be disturbed by the blaring noise for another four hours. But Saturday’s sound was different. Other neighbors noticed, too.

I spent most of yesterday afternoon in a class, hence the lack of photographs for this posting. But residents in and around the 700 block of 8th Street—drawn out of their homes by the peculiar noise—were greeted by a scene not witnessed in four years: The busy intersection’s four corners were occupied by a total of about 25 men from the Nation of Islam. They employed at least three-battery powered, bullhorn-style amplifiers.

According to 8th Street residents, the men dressed neatly in suits and ties, and were polite and courteous as they distributed leaflets to passersby. The men were followers of the Minister Louis Farrakhan, said the flyers, which invited people to hear Dr. Abdul Alim Muhammad speak on Father’s Day at the Muhammad Mosque No. 4 in southeast Washington, D.C.

The loud, but orderly, event lasted about an hour, according to neighbors, who had expected the men from the Israelite School of Universal Practical Knowledge (ISUPK) to drive up at any moment and claim their usual spot on the southeast corner. In the past, small groups of Muslim men have clashed with the ISUPK at H and 8th.

When questioned, two Nation of Islam members politely gave no reason for the sudden demonstration. They told residents they were unaware other groups assembled at the intersection during that same Saturday time slot.

In any event, there were no signs of the ISUPK yesterday. After the Nation of Islam departed, the neighborhood resumed its acceptable hum of urban noise, void of any peace-disturbing amplifier.

Witnesses confirmed yesterday’s one-hour assembly was loud and disruptive to residents and businesses, but its duration lessened the impact compared to the usual four-hour amplified noise-athon.

The neighbors welcome all groups to exchange speech in the free marketplace of ideas—but please leave the amplifiers at home.


Blogger Nathalie said...

I saw the ISUPK at 7th and Florida, NW on Friday night. Do they always congregate there at that time or have they switched venues/times?

We came by for Citywide Amplification Day in Georgetown by the way. While we are removed from the actual noise at H & 8th (we're closer to the NY Ave Metro), we have been keeping up with your quest as an issue in the neighborhood. It was interesting and amusing to watch and overhear the events in Georgetown. I was wondering if you think you may need to have another demonstration if things don't resolve quickly. I'd love to help pass out flyers and such if you do.

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting NJC. Are you sure it was the ISUPK you saw on 7th and Florida? Keep in mind there are different groups, though they all dress roughly the same and have roughly the same theology. For example, here in New York there was once a point in the late 90s when three different groups were on the streets of this city (the ICUPK, 12Tribes/HODC, and "House of Israel," all three of which were offshoots of the ISUPK). I ask because I was told that on Friday afternoons the ISUPK is at 12th & G St. N.W Washington, D.C. Perhaps they changed locations? Perhaps it is a different group?

Also, echoing your question, I would comment to Mr. Klavitter that is very much in his best interests to have second (as well as third and fourth) Citywide Amplification demonstration. If the one time he did it is going to be the only time, I'm sure it will have been in vain (i.e. the residents of Georgetown will have survived that one instance, and won't have to ever think about it again).

5:33 PM  
Blogger Klav said...

Thanks for your note of support, njc.

As Abu noted, the ISUPK at H and 8th on Saturdays also speaks at 12th and G St NW on Friday afternoons. There are similar groups. I believe it was a year ago when another amplified group joined the usual ISUPK fellows at H and 8th for an all-afternoon competition of noise!

It is our hope that our first Citywide Amplified Free Speech Day in Georgetown was enough to demonstrate the absurdity of the broken noise law. The neighbors will make a decision soon if we will do it again. We'd welcome your help!

1:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since it seems that the ISUK guys are willing to be diplaced by other groups, perhaps we should organize a demonstration of the Church of the Silent Assembly at 8th and H.

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon, please do not do that. The last thing we need is physical confrontation. This is how would it would play out. Residents get there. ISUPK gets there. A small skirmish happens. People see it as raceism. Hst NE gets burned down to the ground again.

Davids approach is the best way and it is starting to attract attention, but he needs more help.

4:41 PM  

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