Five young activists are camping outside the White House on a hunger strike to demand climate action. The activists demand that President Joe Biden keep his promise to “build back better.” The five activists (Kidus Girma, 26, Ema Govea, 18, Paul Campion, 24, Julia Paramo, 24, and Abby Leedy, 20) say they will not eat until the president fulfills his promise to Americans.
“We’ve committed to not eating until you deliver on your climate commitments in the Build Back Better Act,” the activists said in a statement.
The young activists, part of the Sunrise Movement, have been on a hunger strike for over a week now. They check their blood pressure three times each day and use wheelchairs to prevent falling and fainting. So far, one activist, Girma, has been hospitalized due to dizziness, blurred vision, and nausea.
“Millions of people are going to die if they don’t do this — people our age, in our lifetimes, in climate disasters, in floods, fires and hurricanes, of starvation,” Leedy told reporters.
The five have written a letter to the president asking him to “stand up to Joe Manchin,” a Democratic Senator from West Virginia. The senator has been a stumbling block in the way of progressive climate policies. West Virginia relies heavily on the coal industry, a situation that Manchin has cited to fight progressive policies. This includes blocking a clean electricity program wherein the government would pay companies to replace their coal plants with renewable energy.
“We want Joe Biden and the Democrats to look us in the face, as real people going through the horrific experience of starving and withering away before their eyes, because that’s what’s on the line here, people’s bodies and people’s lives,” she added. “I don’t think we knew how else to get their attention.”
In a White House news conference, press secretary Jen Psaki was asked to give the president’s response to the activists. According to Psaki, the president admires the activists‘ efforts. However, there was no commitment from the government’s side to address the issue.
Campion responded on Twitter, saying, “We don’t want your admiration. Show us the results.”