5 Climate Activists Are Now Using Wheelchairs a Week Into Hunger Strike Outside White House

A group of climate activists has gone without food for more than a week to compel the U.S. government to take bold action on environmental issues

Environmental activists protest and five individuals stage a hunger strike to call for greater climate protections in the current spending bills being debated in Congress in Washington, D.C. on October 22, 2021.
Photo: Matthew Rodier/Sipa via AP

A group of activists is putting their safety on the line to get President Joe Biden to aggressively address the climate crisis.

According to CNN, the group has held a hunger strike outside of the White House since Oct. 20 to get meaningful climate change provisions added to the president's economic package, which Congress has been negotiating.

"I'm seven days into the hunger strike and my body hurts, my stomach honestly feels vacuous, my body feels vacuous, and I have a headache that won't go away," 26-year-old Kidus Girma told CNN. "We're at the point where our muscles are being eaten up by our bodies."

"I'm waiting for my president to start fighting for me," he added. "I'm waiting for Joe Biden to start fighting for the people who elected him."

Girma told the outlet he was sent to the emergency room on Saturday after he experienced nausea, dizziness and blurred vision during the strike, but returned the next day.

Alongside Girma are fellow strikers Paul Campion, Ema Govea, Julia Paramo and Abby Leedy, who are from the environmental advocacy group Sunrise Movement. As they grow weak, the strikers have been sitting in wheelchairs to help them during the protest.

"The stakes of this moment are greater than their own lives: the United States is at a crossroad on climate, and our country has a choice between mass human suffering or mass human survival," the organization said on its website. "Hunger strikes and fasting are tactics that have been used by social movements throughout history to draw attention to certain issues, underscore the moral authority of participants and put pressure on key targets."

"We hope that these activists' hunger strike can appeal to Joe Biden, bring more people into our broader movement and emphasize what is at stake — future life on this planet — in this bill," they continued.

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Biden has said his $3.5 trillion agenda, which includes measures to combat climate change, would likely have to be downsized after it was met with criticism from some Democrats, including Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. The president initially proposed a plan to reward power providers that use clean energy and penalize ones that do not.

Members of the Biden Administration met with the leaders of nearly a dozen environmental and justice groups earlier this week.

"Hunger symbolizes what we're starving for — what we deeply need in this moment," Girma told CNN. "And it also shows the possible future that Biden is making really possible if he doesn't start fighting for us."

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