Arizona Students Form Hunger Strike For Democracy Outside Of The White House

The youth have the power to change the world. We have seen how their ideas, creativity, energy, and internal passion have shaped our system. Yet again, another group of young individuals has stood for social change by banding together outside of the White House to force the hands of the democratic party to pass federal voting rights legislation.

More than 20 college students from Arizona State University and the University of Arizona organized a hunger strike alongside the nonpartisan political group Un-PAC. The protest began on December 6th, making today a total of twelve days without nutritious food.

Prior to camping outside the White House, the Arizona students began their efforts in their hometown at Arizona’s capitol. 

Protestors are pushing Congress to pass the Freedom to Vote Act before the new year. 

“The Freedom to Vote Act is about getting dark money out of politics and protecting our freedom to vote. Without it, our democracy will crumble — and our futures hang in the balance,” said Arizona State student, Leo Cevallos. 

The students have been joined by supporters such as SiriusXM radio host Joe Madison who, as of Nov. 8,  has been on a hunger strike for over 40 days.  

As Joe Madison enters his 6th week and nearly 20 students continue into their 2nd, Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig is joining the hunger strike for democracy.

On his show, The Joe Madison Show,  he shared, “This is just plain politically and morally wrong, so as a political protest, I am starting a hunger strike today by abstaining from any solid food until Congress passes and President Biden signs the freedom to vote act or the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.” 

According to HuffPost, The Freedom to Vote Act would need mail-in voting, automatic and same-day voter registration, on top of banning partisan “dark money” during elections. 

Unfortunately, Republicans have blocked the legislation from passing in the Senate on numerous occasions. On the other side, a few Democratic senators also stand behind filibusters–sens. Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) have shared they don’t support erasing the filibuster. 

The protesters were able to secure a meeting with Sinema over Zoom last week in what Cevallos deemed a “wonderful meeting.” Cevallos also shared that his groups’ primary focus is on “federal intervention,” asking President Biden to use his “political capital” to sign, seal, and deliver.

Over the summer, the Supreme Court upheld voting restrictions in Arizona that discriminate against non-white voters. These restrictions prevent young, low-income voters and Black and Latinx voters from the ballot. 

Despite dealing with headaches, dizzy spells, low energy, and fatigue, the young strikers in D.C. say they plan to keep up their fast “indefinitely.”

“We’ll stay out here as long as we need to,” Cevallos said. “Right here on the steps of the White House, where Biden can see us.”

The young and determined protesters are demanding a meeting with the Biden administration to be heard and push the legislation. 

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