Portland, Ore.– Former Mayoral Candidate and Occupy Portland Activist Cameron Whitten finishes into his 6th week of a hunger strike outside of City Hall. His current weight comes in at a total 163.3 pounds, from an initial start of 193.7.
One of the newest phenomena springing up during the protest is the mass of people occupying on the sidewalk outside of City Hall at all hours. The presence of camping protesters can be found at both the back and front ends of the quintessential building, and lately the numbers have spiked for over 60. This has spawned increased interface with public authorities and allegations of unprecedented rat infestation, attributed to open containers of food and debris which circulate through the day. Participants claim that commercial food vending contributes heavily to these issues, mentioning the recent parades and events, such as the Rose Festival and the Blues Festival. Reports to the City have been sent weeks before it caught media attention, but there is no plan of action as of yet.
Tomorrow, Whitten plans on making his first post-strike visit to R2D2, a rest area for the homeless located on a private lot under the Chinatown arch, which he has requested City officials to stop fining. At noon, supporters will be carting him away in a homemade transportation craft dubbed ‘the HungerMobile’.
There has been no announcement that the City of Portland will be expanding any of their policies addressing the housing crisis. Most of City Council, save Amanda Fritz, have ended communication with Whitten, which he says has not quelled his drive to bring immediate visibility to the socioeconomic disparities plaguing the region. Mayoral Candidates Jefferson Smith and Charlie Hales have been making frequent trips, both expressing support for a peaceful resolution for R2D2.
Housing advocates are organizing a rally of support to commemorate 50 days of fasting, on July 20th, 4:30pm outside of City Hall. The confirmed list of speakers include Mayoral Candidate Jefferson Smith, First Unitarian Church Minister Kate Lore, and Right 2 Dream Too organizer Ibrahim Mubarak.
There is no determined end date for this protest.