Durham County

The beat goes on: Police told not to disrupt Batalá drum rehearsal

Batalá Durham’s drumming practice at Durham Central Park can go on as planned Monday night, even if someone calls the police to complain again.

A member of Batalá has submitted a special event permit application, but the city manager has already asked the Durham Police Department not to disrupt rehearsal even if there is a complaint.

Police previously responded to noise complaints from a resident of Liberty Warehouse Apartments, though other Liberty residents came out to support the drumming group. Liberty Warehouse Apartments opened earlier this year next to Durham Central Park.

Batalá member Justin Anderson-Pomeroy submitted a permit application to the city on Thursday after talking with City Council member Charlie Reece.

Reece wrote in an email to City Manager Tom Bonfield that the permit would “allow Batalá Durham to continue their rehearsals at Durham Central Park in full compliance with the noise ordinance — and without putting our police officers in this situation going forward. In the meantime, the city council will be reviewing certain changes to that ordinance in the weeks and months to come that would resolve this specific issue.”

In an email Friday, Bonfield told Reece that while it was unlikely a permit would be issued in time for practice on Monday, Aug. 14, “that should not deter them from conducting their practice at that time and location as they have all summer. I have asked the police department should a complaint be made to simply respond and document what they find but not disrupt the rehearsal.”

Bonfield also told Reece that once he hears back from staff next week, he will determine if a permit is appropriate for issuance along with any conditions that should be included.

At the Durham City Council’s work session on Thursday, Reece brought up the Batalá issue and said he hoped “we will work over the next little while here to address the new challenges we have living and working here, especially downtown.”

Reece called for the city to rework the noise ordinance and discuss how noise ordinances in general are enforced. He said that is a more long-term process.

Council member Steve Schewel thanked Reece for paying attention to the Batalá rehearsals issue. He called Reece’s ideas “really a smart approach.”

Batalá Durham’s next rehearsal on Monday will include a school supplies drive for Durham School of the Arts. The “Drum Up School Supplies” event will be held at the same time as practice, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 14.

Batalá will not rehearse on Monday, Aug. 21, as some drummers will be traveling to Cuba to perform.

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: 919-419-6563, @dawnbvaughan