LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Four hunger strikers in Louisville are going into the second week of their protest seeking initial steps towards justice for Breonna Taylor. They have two demands right now: The three officers involved with Taylor’s fatal shooting are fired and their pensions pulled.
“She wanted to be a nurse. She had thoughts and dreams and desires just like the rest of us. And the state took that away from her, and we will never forget it. So we do this for her,” said Vincent Gonzalez.
The 33-year-old is one of the four protesters on the hunger strike that are living together right now at an undisclosed location in Louisville.
None of the hunger strikers knew Taylor personally, but all feel compelled as humans to stand up to what they call injustice until justice is served for her.
Thirty-three-year-old Ari Maybe said even though he might be hungry at the moment, that’s not the focus.
“There are days I just go, go, go. I’m just so driven by what I’m doing and energized by what we are doing, that I want to utilize as much as I can while I still have it because I’m expecting a crash in the next two days,” Maybe told Spectrum News 1.
The hunger strikers are abstaining from caloric intake, besides a few calories given because of a daily electrolyte mixture their volunteer medical team has them drink.
The mixture consists of a gallon of water, freshly squeezed juice from a whole lemon, Himalayan pink salt, one tablespoon of maple syrup, and 1/4 of a teaspoon of hemp oil. The maple syrup has the highest calories with 52 for each tablespoon.
Tavin Ibershoff said she drinks two gallons of the mixture per day. In addition, the hunger strikers can also drink just water, straight black coffee, chamomile tea, or needles tea.
A look in the fridge isn’t quite the same as peaking into a celebrity’s during the classic MTV show “Cribs.” There are jugs of the homemade electrolyte drink, some lemon, and the maple syrup. A peak in the freezer and you will find ice.
“The response that we are seeing from the Louisville government is unacceptable, and so we were compelled to push really hard,” 29-year-old Ibershoff said.
“Historically, hunger strikes can be a very powerful tool, and we were willing to put our bodies on the lines to really push the wheel of justice really hard if we could,” she added.
The hunger strikers said if the two demands they are seeking are met, it’s not justice, which includes convictions that they said will take time and lies in the hands of Attorney General Daniel Cameron. However, Maybe said their two demands right now are achievable.
“We have bigger plans after this that are related to what we are doing, but there’s no sense in setting a goal that’s not achievable, especially when you’re putting your life on the line,” Maybe said.
A Facebook livestream captures what they are doing 24/7 in the living room and kitchen. So far, Maybe said they have only watched one TV show because their days are packed, usually with media interviews, posting on social media, fundraising, or taking time for self-care, since their bodies are going through abnormal circumstances.
A team of about 40 people backs them up, from a scheduler who plans their days to those that pick up or drop off supplies. The hunger strikers even have team members that help with talking points before they speak at press conferences. Volunteer medics also take their vitals daily to make sure they are healthy, all considering.
The hunger strikers knew each other from past social justice work, but they weren’t close friends.
Now, they are together almost 24/7 living under the same roof and have no plans to stop their hunger strike until the two demands are met.
“I consider these people, you know family, and so regardless of what happens next, this will not be the end of us working together,” Gonzalez said.
For more information on the Hunger Strikers For Breonna visit their Facebook page. The Hunger Strikers also invite any individual to strike in solidarity with them by giving something up, such as candy or drinking, for a determined amount of time, such as 24 hours or more.