LETTER- Drumming is key communication

I attended the City Council meeting about allowing African drumming on the Downtown Mall again. [July 10: "Drumroll, please: Group exiled until Council acts."] Mayor Dave Norris and present Council members expressed support for the drumming and seemed confident that something would be worked out and that the ordinance stemmed from complaints about amplified guitar music. 

What I feel is so important is helping the public understand why there should be an exception for this form of communication, which is what the drumming is. I can understand why we need to avoid a cacophony. But as I suggested to Mayor Norris, if an exception is made, and others whose music may rise above the decibel level want the same consideration, let them apply and let the merits of the request be judged on a case-by-case basis.

One thing that may not be as well known to all is that Whit Whitten has given tirelessly to this community by playing and teaching at schools, rehabilitation facilities, Camp Holiday Trails, workshops for children, almost all of it free. He simply loves to work with children and share his gift of this wonderful infectious sound. 

There's a reason Whit Whitten was chosen one of the Charlottesville's distinguished citizens by the Daily Progress last year. 

When we were playing the night in question, we had reports from many observers that after going one street away, you couldn't even hear the music over the sounds of the people and life on the Mall.

To not allow him to continue to drum on the Mall as he did for many years would truly be a great loss. And to have this happen just as we are becoming a sister city with Winneba, Ghana, is even harder to understand. As they learn more about our culture, we should be embracing and learning about theirs.

It also helps to develop a sense of community and diversity, and isn't that what the premise of the Downtown Mall is supposed to be about?

Diane Bracuto



It's amazing the number of people who support government by privilege.

Charlottesville has become the catchall public begging capital of the US. I don't mind if a creative and respectful musician has a cup for donations. After all, they are entertaining and providing a service. The problem is, too many drunks, druggies, and lazy bones are making a business out of sitting there doing nothing and actively pestering the public for cash. I had to laugh recently as one guy displayed a sign: NEED MONEY BUT NOT FOR DRUGS. All the while he puffed on a cig and drank ?? from a paper bag???
Seems these people gathering cash should be required to buy a permit from the city. It is unfair that others running a business must first acquire a permit in order to sell their stuff on the Mall.

I think there already is a law against "aggressive" panhandling. Not sure how they define that.
No problem with a musician who has an instrument case open for people to donate if they wish. Busking is a long tradition. Likewise high school bake sales, Girl Scout cookies, etc.
Would not mind seeing ALL panhandling by these individuals soi referred to banned. Problem is,someone would probably take the city to court saying their rights were infringed upon.

Yep, they may try to take it to court, but in the end, they don't have a leg to stand on, as they harrass and also violate the rights of law abiding citizens visting the the mall.