Kelly Mears is undertaking a hunger strike to urge Congress to grant the District of Columbia full Congressional voting rights.
Four Occupy DC protesters have expanded their portfolio of complaints to include the constitutional prohibition on federal representation for the District of Columbia.
Adrian Parsons, Kelly Mears and Sam Jewler are five days into a hunger strike they say will last until Congress grants the District full Congressional voting rights. A fourth person, Joe Gray, joined them Monday.
In that event, the risk of death would seem to be high: The chances of Congress soon passing D.C. voting rights legislation range from extremely low to nonexistent.
So the strikers have qualified their intention to refuse food until they get their way. “We are all in communication with our own bodies,” Parsons said.
Though they will primarily be camped out in the Occupy DC “tent city” at McPherson Square, live-streaming their fasting in the interest of transparency, the strikers will also have a presence on Capitol Hill. They plan to lobby lawmakers to endorse voting rights for D.C. as well as exclude D.C. policy riders from the omnibus appropriations package Congress is expected to pass before adjourning the first session of the 112th Congress.
On Friday, fewer than 24 hours after launching their strike, the four attempted to meet with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has jurisdiction over D.C. affairs. Issa was en route to his district, so the hunger strikers plan to try again today with a larger delegation of allies in tow.
On Monday, five days in and considerably weaker, they staged sit-ins at the offices of House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Two of them were in wheelchairs.
Capitol Police Officer Dies While Volunteering
Capitol Police Officer Brian Dowell died Thursday after a fall from a church steeple.
The 45-year-old officer who joined the Capitol Police in 2002 and served most recently with the Patrol/Mobile Response Division fell while working to replace a makeshift steeple on a Maryland church.
Local reports say witnesses on the scene saw Dowell lose his footing on the top of a ladder and fall 17 feet.
A colleague described him as a “cop’s cop. The kind of guy you were happy to work with. He pulled his weight and never shirked his duties. He was tough but fair. … He put the needs of the agency above his own and always tried to make things better.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, speaks with reporters in the Capitol after a speech on the Senate floor that accused the CIA of searching computers set up for Congressional staff for their research of interrogation programs.