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.
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.
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This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 16, 2011