Occupy DC Hunger Strikers To Launch New Initiatives

Occupy DC Hunger Strikers To Launch New Initiatives

Washington, D.C.'s hunger strikers have announced the launch of three new voting rights initiatives to benefit the disenfranchised voters of the nation's capital. From the press release the group issued Thursday:

An online petition with 601,723 signatures from around the country, representing one for every DC resident. The petition demands full representation in Congress, legislative autonomy and budget autonomy for DC. It is addressed to both houses of Congress and the President, demonstrating that the vast majority of Americans, once they learn about DC's plight, agree that Republicans should work with Democrats to grant the city full enfranchisement.

The beginning of a 51-day series of 24-hour hunger strikes by 51 different people consuming only water, representing their support for the District of Columbia as the 51st state.

The proposal to create a DC people's representative who would inform and lobby Congress, and act as a DC rider-finder, to push legislators on Capitol Hill towards recognizing full democracy for DC.

D.C. Shadow Senator Paul Strauss, who already seems to be doing the work of the proposed "DC's people's representative," told The Huffington Post in an email that this initiative does "seem fairly duplicative, but we can use all the help we can get." (Strauss also said that he'd do one of the one-day strikes: "God knows I could afford to lose a few pounds.")

Artist Adrian Parsons, who has lost some 25 pounds in the last three weeks since beginning his hunger strike in support of D.C. voting rights and budget and legislative autonomy, explained that there are differences between the people's representative and the shadow lawmakers, who are elected citywide but do not have a vote in Congress. Among them is that the people's representative would be appointed by the D.C. Council rather than being elected. Also, the people's representative's salary would be funded through a one-cent tax on bottled water.

Parsons may be able to fund the position single-handed before long. He has been consuming only bottled water and vitamins since he began his hunger strike three weeks ago; of the four Occupy DC protesters who began the strike on Dec. 8, he is the only one who has yet to break his fast.

Parsons said that he is not yet seeking the people's representative position, should it be created. Nor is he considering running for the office of D.C. shadow representative, even though the incumbent, Mike Panetta -- who has held the unpaid office since 2007 -- is not seeking reelection, and it's not too late for Parsons to file his candidacy petitions and run for the office himself.

Parsons, in a phone interview on Thursday, said he's too busy with these new initiatives at the current time, and too busy thinking about what he'll do if the initiatives go very, very well -- namely, start eating again and get his declining health back in order. Then he paused. "When is the paperwork due? I'll cut my hair."

WATCH: Adrian Parsons talks about the hunger strike.

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