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Occupy Wall Street Protesters Stage Hunger Strike

By Sonja Sharp | December 4, 2011 4:37pm
SOHO — The night police raided the Occupy Wall Street encampment at Zuccotti Park last month, Brian Udall, 18, was in Provo, Utah, studying film at Brigham Young University. By 5 p.m. the next day, he’d dropped all his classes and was on the road to New York City.

Udall is one of a small, but determined group of protesters who embarked on a hunger strike Saturday outside a Trinity Church-owned lot near Duarte Square in SoHo to demand a new public space for the Occupy protesters.

“People are definitely staying connected, but we feel it’s important to get a new space,” said hunger-striker Shae Willes, 22, who said he was also galvanized by the raid, arriving with Udall from Utah in mid-November. “There’s been quite a few people coming through.”

They joined longtime occupier Diego Ibanez, who arrived from Utah in the early days of the movement.

“We’re asking Trinity for political sanctuary,” Ibanez said. “They have a great opportunity to show they’re on board with the same values Occupy Wall Street has.”

The space where the newcomers are camped was the site of a violent clash between protesters and police on Nov. 15, when the ousted occupiers briefly tried to commandeer the fenced-off property at Sixth Avenue and Canal Street, which is sometimes used for public events.

But the satellite occupation has so far been peaceful. Two New York City police officers parked nearby appeared to be keeping an eye on the group, and protesters said they were briefly harangued by police early Sunday morning, but that the exchange ended without incident.

“The police woke us up at about 3 a.m. and told us that we were allowed to sleep here but not allowed to have any blankets,” Willes said. But the officers left without confiscating their blankets.

The trio said they plan to subsist on a mixture of lemon juice, cayenne pepper, maple syrup and water known as the “Master Cleanse” until Occupy Wall Street has a new home.

Sympathizers and fellow protesters are invited to join, and clergy are expected to participate in a 24-hour solidarity fast in coming days, Ibanez said.