After 11 days of starvation, three of the four Occupy DC protesters who had been on a hunger strike in support of District voting rights have decided to eat, one of the strikers said Monday.
Sam Jewler said he broke his fast with a glass of coconut juice and a bowl of miso broth around noon Monday. In an interview, Jewler said his family was pressuring him to give up the protest, at least for now.
“I was feeling pretty much the same way I was the last week, but my parents were becoming increasingly distressed,” Jewler said. “I didn’t feel like it was fair anymore to put that burden on them.”
Kelly Mears, another Occupy DC protester who took part in the original hunger strike, has also broken his fast, Jewler said. And a third protester, Joe Gray, ended his fast on Sunday night after experiencing some “medical complications,” Jewler said.
But Jewler said that Adrian Parsons, 29, is vowing to fast into Christmas.
“Adrian is determined to take this even farther,” Jewler said.
Parsons is keeping up his fast even as a growing number of city officials and advocates are expressing concern about the health risks associated with not eating for nearly two weeks.
Since the “Occupy the vote DC” protest began Dec. 8, the increasingly frail men made repeated visits, often in wheel chairs, to Capitol Hill to seek support for more autonomy for the District.
Although House Speaker John Boehner (R) declined to meet with them, they held meetings with several other members of Congress, including Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.). Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn), even went on a 24-hour “solidarity” hunger strike Friday to express his support.
“I think we have raised a lot of awareness,” Jewler said. “I think we have rejuvenated the movement.”
Jewler said he and D.C. Vote, which helped oversee the hunger strikers’ public relations strategy, are discussing ways to build off their momentum. For example, Jewler said that he and other Occupy DC protesters are aiming to collect 601,000 signatures -- one for every resident of the District -- from across the country in support of voting rights.