"I went out there and marched in the streets, and then I ran for office. And seeing how still there were so many people that just weren't responding, I decided I needed to make a real serious sacrifice, hoping that people will realize we are in a crisis."
Now that his hunger strike for the homeless and housing reform has reached a month on the exposed sidewalks outside Portland City Hall, 21-year-old Cameron Whitten has endured wind, rain, rats, pols, well-wishers, and verbal scorn.
"How do you feel right now?" I put to him at 11:30pm last night (June 30) in the cold dark rain huddled semi-upright under a tarp surrounded by a collection of water-logged flyers, commandeered news boxes, makeshift equipment, and scattered possessions.
"I feel like a million butterscotch," Whitten, a 3-year Portland resident and current Portland Community College-Cascade student, replied in a clear direct voice. Asked to explain, he offered, "I have no idea," followed by a genuine laugh. "I might be delirious."
Living on a month-long diet of nothing but vitamins and juice, particularly coconut water, can do that to you.
"Probably (the saddest is) seeing so many people with mental illness out here. Not getting any help. And seeing the looks of apathy. And disgruntled people who want to scream, 'Get a job!' or 'You don't look homeless.' Things like that. Just so much conflict when in fact we're all experiencing the same kind of economic oppression." [...]
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