Activist fined for littering Town Common
GREENFIELD — It looks like a 31-day hunger strike on the Town Common is going to cost Douglas E. Wight $225.
The 70-year-old didn’t look a whole lot worse for wear on Monday as he sat in the shade under a maple tree in the 22nd day of his hunger strike to bring awareness to global warming, but he was upset that the town has fined him $225 last week for littering and sign violations.
Wight received the fine on July 18 for violating a special permit allowing him to be on the common during his hunger strike.
According to acting Police Chief Daniel McCarthy, Wight violated the town’s sign ordinance by having several signs, including one on his nearby truck that protruded into traffic on Main Street.
Wight said he started his hunger strike on June 30 and said he will finish it on July 31.
The original permit granted to Wight by the town’s Board of License Commissioners was recently amended, because Wight had violated it. The original one allowed him to have “free-standing” signs, but the town felt he had gone overboard, so the new permit allows only one sign which is 10 square feet in size. Wight has placed that sign on top of his truck to track the days of his hunger strike.
“I admit I wasn’t supposed to have a tent or shelter and I tried to get away with a netted one,” said Wight.
He erected a free-standing netted tent each day for the first two-and-a-half weeks of his hunger strike on the common, but last week the town said “no.”
His new permit does not allow a tent, shelter or camping overnight — Wight never camped on the common overnight.
It allows for only one chair and a small table, which have to be removed by 8 p.m. each day.
McCarthy said the problem was that little by little Wight added to what he brought to the common each morning.
When McCarthy and Board of License Commissioners Chairman Scott Conti went to the common on July 18, they found rocks, cardboard, saw horses, a large, inflated red balloon, ropes, boxes, cans and plastic bags there.
McCarthy said Wight was fined $200 for littering and $25 for having a sign on the street.
“All of his stuff spawned calls from the public, because he was piling more and more of it each day,” said McCarthy. “Scott (Conti) and I went over the details of his permit with him and told him the 16-foot sign on his truck had to go.”
McCarthy said the Town Common was becoming very distracting to the public.
“We told (Wight) four times that he had to stop,” said McCarthy. “It was the fourth time, when it got frustrating enough, that we went down and wrote him a ticket.”
Wight said being on the common is not really about him being on a hunger strike but rather him getting people’s attention to bring awareness to what everyone is doing to the planet.
Wight had planned to go on a hunger strike in Washington, D.C., with others earlier this year, but he came home sick after just a few days. It was at that point that he said he would try again in July, this time on Greenfield Town Common.
The retired Greenfield resident said all he has ingested over the past three weeks is water, Vitamin Water, and other fluids. He said he has lost 15 pounds, going from 185 to 170 pounds since he started.
“I’ve felt a little faint the past couple of days,” he said. “We’ll have to see what happens, but my plan is to stick it out.”