Jesus Christ, This Kid Has Been Hunger Striking Outside City Hall for 30 Days!
It was a strange scene outside city hall last night, as about 50 people gathered to join activist Cameron Whitten for a "slumber party" on day 30 of his hunger strike for housing justice. Whitten, 21, moved to Portland from Virginia in 2009 and camped at Occupy Portland for weeks before couchsurfing through a mayoral campaign. He says he has lost twenty pounds while sitting outside city hall during the past thirty days, consuming only juice, water, and vitamins. At the slumber party last night, Whitten announced he's taking the strike up a (potentially rather dangerous) notch, switching to water only until city council meets his demands and some new ones: Creating a citizen group to find a temporary camping site for up to 300 people and ending the camping ban. As we talked last night, strangers and supporters milled around us, grilling hot dogs on a tiny sidewalk BBQ, and—in the case of a man wearing tiny jean shorts and pink knee socks—screaming Beatles lyrics through a megaphone. Nate MillerCameron Whitten, 20 pounds lighter. MERCURY: What's been the hardest day or night so far? CAMERON WHITTEN: Any night that it rains. I have to be honest, I think yesterday, I cried a little bit as I woke up. I started singing "Mad World": "All around me are familiar faces, worn out places, worn out faces." I feel like that's my anthem right now. We're facing so many problems and our culture is all about apathy and distraction. Last night was bad. It was raining hard. I had to go take a shower. What's surprised you about your campaign? I was really surprised that it took 30 days to talk to all the city commissioners. I thought after, like, 10 days, they would all at least come say hi. Amanda came up day seven, Randy came day 17, Sam I just talked to him a few days ago, and then Nick, and then just yesterday, day 29, I talked to Saltzman. Who was the most awkward? Saltzman. Nick Fish is all like, "Hey! I'm Nick Fish! Let's talk!" And Sam's a real social guy, he says hi to everyone. Saltzman just kind of looks off-set. [ Subscribe to the comments on this story ]
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July 02, 2012
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