Activist continuing hunger strike
GREENFIELD — On what was supposed to be the final night of his month-long hunger strike to raise awareness about mankind’s negative impact on the Earth, Douglas Wight said Tuesday his strike will continue.
“It was supposed to end at midnight tonight but I’m going to go an extra 10 days,” said Wight from his chair on the Greenfield Town Common. A small group of supporters inflated a giant red balloon and created cardboard signs with messages like, “Stop eating meat” and “For our children’s future, stop burning fossil fuels.”
Wight, a 70-year-old Greenfield resident, said he wanted to “keep the ball rolling” leading up to a planned environmental awareness Aug. 25 event on the Greenfield Town Common. With his permit to spend days on the common set to expire today, he applied for another one Tuesday. Even if he doesn’t secure another permit, Wight said he plans to show up today anyway and stand on the Main Street sidewalk.
Wight has said that he has not ingested solid food for an entire month — depending solely on water, Vitamin Water and other fluids like soup broth. Employees at Brad’s Place said that he stopped in a few times during the month to drink broth that had been strained free of noodles or vegetables.
“I’m feeling a little weak and a little stressed,” said Wight. “But I’m not feeling like I’m going to fall over, so I feel like I can hang in there.”
He said he has lost 25 pounds and currently weighs 160.
He believes the hunger strike has been a way to get people’s attention and get them talking about global warming and other environmental issues.
Wight had originally planned to participate in a hunger strike in Washington, D.C., earlier this year, but he came home sick after a few days. He decided he would try again in July, this time in downtown Greenfield.
He had received town permission to spend days on the common. But about halfway through his strike, authorities felt Wight had gotten out of hand and fined him $225 for littering and sign violations.
At that time, Wight had erected a free-standing netted tent, an inflated red balloon and a 16-foot sign on his truck. According to acting Police Chief Daniel McCarthy, there were also rocks, cardboard, saw horses, ropes, boxes, cans and plastic bags on the common.
The town gave Wight a new permit, which allowed to have a chair, small table and one sign that was 10 square feet in size. He had to remove his belongings by 8 p.m. each day and was not allowed a tent or shelter.
Wight decided to bring back the signs and balloon for a few hours Tuesday night. He said he has been paying high school students minimum wage to construct the signs, which he hopes will be on display during the Aug. 25 rally.
The town’s Board of License Commissioners could not be reached for comment. Greenfield Police Sgt. David Rice said that police would have to wait and see what Wight planned to do, if he did not secure a permit, before making a comment on whether it would be allowed.