Occupy Wall Street Hunger Strikers Finish 14th Day

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Rosie Gray
Malory Butler and Diego Ibanez.
Remember the Occupy Wall Street hunger strike team? Their strike began two weeks ago as an effort to get Trinity Wall Street to allow OWS to occupy a vacant lot that the church owns at Sixth Avenue and Canal Street. In the beginning, they had three people hunger-striking (and three more who were stand-ins when the others were arrested twice in a 12-hour period). Two weeks later, their numbers are down to two: Miami native Malory Butler, 19, 23-year-old Diego Ibanez of Provo, Utah.

The Voice visited with Butler and Ibanez this evening to see how they're doing after what they say is a solid two weeks of eating no food at all. They were sitting on the sidewalk outside of Trinity Church, a block or two under Zuccotti Park.

The pair looked surprisingly OK, though both seemed pale and tired and said they felt weak. Butler is actually on her 15th day with no food, having started her strike the night of the Occupy Museums event at Lincoln Center with Philip Glass as guest.

"After a certain amount of time with no food, you reach a clarified state of mind," Butler said. The duo both agreed that they had reached this point. We noticed a copy of Gandhi's autobiography nestled close to Ibanez's side.

Butler and Ibanez both say they're not even thinking about food anymore, instead concentrating on the task at hand of getting Trinity to allow tomorrow's planned occupation of Duarte Square to proceed. Trinity has said that they won't let the protesters occupy the space.

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Rosie Gray

The hunger strikers say their focus has shifted a bit into "asking for people to reassess the direction of the movement," according to Ibanez. When we asked whether people in the movement approve or disapprove of the hunger strike, Ibanez and Butler gave each other a look. "Debatable," Butler said, though Ibanez said that "our comrades have been very helpful."

Yesterday they were joined by others in a "National 24-hour Solidarity Hunger Strike for Spaces" that devolved into a confrontation with police and Trinity representatives. But today they're out there alone again. They don't know if they'll continue the hunger strike if Trinity blocks tomorrow's occupation. "We'll play it by ear," Ibanez said.

As we were sitting with Butler and Ibanez, a man walked up and greeted them. "You know we're going to try and occupy that space on Canal and Sixth tomorrow, right?" he said.

[rgray@villagevoice.com] [@_rosiegray]

Go to Runnin' Scared for more Voice news coverage.

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8 comments
kaitlin515
kaitlin515

     Where are this lovely young lady's parents?  If she is truly hunger striking and truly harming her health, it is time for a relative to declare her mentally incompetent and have her put on an IV drip or forced into a hospital. This church should not give in to her any more than a parent should give in to a child threatening to break a window or hold their breath if they don't get their way.  If these strikers succeed in coercing the church, what is next? Will they threaten to harm themselves in front of the White House, threaten to jump off of a building if we don't let them put up their tents?......Ridiculous! 

Heather Ferreira
Heather Ferreira

I wish these activists the best and suggest they read "Days of Fear" by Irish prison striker Frank Gallagher, who was arrested by the British simply for being an Irishman, and who with his fellow inmates changed the course of history. The book is his hunger strike diary, and is inspiring reading for anyone undergoing a political hunger strike.

Michael T
Michael T

The religious ritual of World Communion began a week before Halloween.  We saw a Gasparilla  Regatta with the Pirates' dry ice and alum shortly after that.  Some religious figures are still participating in communion, of various beliefs, some of which are not acceptable to the civilized world.  Maybe these protesters couldn't get any decent grape juice and bread.

languagegame
languagegame

i'd be interested in updates to this story. 

the action within occupy is debatable eh.  ya damn right this is debatable.  it borders on coercion.

Limog5
Limog5

Talking about the 4 hunger strikers in DC, the Washington Post states:  "Right now, their muscle mass is breaking down and their metabolism is slowing and adapting to starvation. If and when they clear 14 days, they’ll be inviting serious health consequences, physicians say." The four in DC have congressmen and -women speaking on their behalf. They are staying in St. Stephen's. 

In New York, these two kids have been going for over 14 days. They are sitting on a sidewalk, in December. They need more than a casual nod, the Church needs to reach out to them and engage in serious dialogue. This is not about a parking lot. 

Jean Gerard
Jean Gerard

For a religious organization particularly to allow such a punishing situation to continue isunconscionable.  Some kind of concession should be made to avoid further stand-off andthe sad result that is likely to occur.  Trinity is not that poor either financially or spiritually.

LLl
LLl

So the church should capitulate and allow an illegal campsite on their property that happens to already be leased to a nonprofit organization. These petulant brats will just keep asking fore more and more

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