[Hpn] Protester on prison hunger strike~Man jailed for repeatedly sleeping in public parks hasn't eaten for 30 days

William Charles Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Fri, 04 Aug 2006 21:56:07 -0400


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http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=3D685d4271-880a-40e=
2-b96c-3754c2d7cf87&k=3D44071&p=3D2

Protester on prison hunger strike
Man jailed for repeatedly sleeping in public parks hasn't eaten for 30 =
days


Louise Dickson, with files from Richard Watts, Times Colonist

Published: Friday, August 04, 2006=20
David Johnston, Victoria's right-to-sleep protester, has been on a =
hunger strike at the Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre for =
30 days.

Johnston is a homeless man who has been repeatedly arrested and jailed =
since 2004 for camping in Beacon Hill Park and sleeping on the grounds =
of St. Ann's Academy. Every time he's been released, Johnston has =
returned to St. Ann's to assert what he believes is his right to sleep =
outdoors on "public access space."

Johnston said the reasons for his hunger strike are simple -- he =
believes the Crown is corrupt, and he thinks no one should eat in jail.

The authorities are powerless to stop him from starving to death. He has =
signed an order that prevents prison or medical officials from =
force-feeding him or hooking him up to an intravenous drip if he passes =
out -- an event he believes will happen in six to 10 days.

His battle, which sparked the establishment of tent cities at St. Ann's =
and Cridge Park last fall by other homeless people, has frustrated =
courts to the point where Johnston is now serving consecutive sentences =
of 120 and 90 days.

The two sentences are the latest in a series. His sentences started with =
conditional discharges on Dec. 21, 2004, after he was found guilty of =
two counts of mischief for trying to set up camp at St. Ann's Academy. =
Subsequent sentences were for breaches of court-imposed conditions, and =
all the breaches involved showing up at St. Ann's. Over the course of 11 =
court appearances, his sentences have increased from one day, to three, =
to seven, to 14, 30, 90 and finally 120 days, starting July 6.

Each time he's been in jail, Johnston has gone on a hunger strike, but =
with the longer sentences, that's increasingly putting his life in =
danger.

B.C. Corrections spokesman Derek Tangedal is unable to discuss =
Johnston's case but confirmed that if an inmate goes on a hunger strike, =
prison staff can't force the inmate to eat.

This week, the impact of the hunger strike was apparent. Red prison =
sweats hung off his normally robust frame. His weight has dropped to 143 =
pounds from 170. Johnston spends his day in solitary confinement where =
officials can keep close tabs on his declining health. He said he drinks =
water, watches the Food Network on a small colour TV in his cell, and =
fantasizes about dumpster diving.

"I feel like an old man," he said. "If someone punched me in the mouth =
right now, all my teeth would fall out. My gums have receded an inch."

His mother, Lea Johnston, visits him every day. She drove to Victoria =
from Alberta after Johnston phoned her collect from jail last week.

"People want me to talk him into eating, but I kind of believe in what =
he's doing," she said outside the jail. "I would never ask him to give =
it up. It would be like Mary saying to Christ: 'You don't really have to =
do that. You can hang out at home and drink wine all day in the =
sunshine.' "

Lea is a Christian who believes God will keep her son alive. On her =
visits to Wilkinson Road she wears a flowing white dress that she calls =
her angel dress.

Johnston wants to appeal his sentence. He said he won't return to St. =
Ann's this time if he is released. He is encouraged by a lawyer's legal =
challenge on behalf of tent city participants that uses the Charter of =
Rights to contest bylaws banning camping in parks. "I wouldn't have =
breached (at St. Ann's) in the first place if I'd known about this =
charter challenge," said Johnston. "If they win, it would be illegal to =
arrest someone for sleeping in public access space."

Johnston wants people to write to the attorney general and the =
lieutenant-governor asking for his release from the facility. Lea also =
wants people to write to the authorities on his behalf. "Don't let =
someone die for sleeping on a park bench," she pleaded.



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<H2>&nbsp;</H2>
<H2>Protester on prison hunger strike</H2>
<H4>Man jailed for repeatedly sleeping in public parks hasn't eaten for =
30=20
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<DIV class=3Dtop>
<DIV class=3Dleft>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV class=3Dright>Louise Dickson, with files from Richard Watts, Times=20
Colonist</DIV>
<DIV class=3Dright>&nbsp;</DIV></DIV></DIV></DIV></DIV>
<DIV class=3Dfeed_details>Published: Friday, August 04, 2006 </DIV>
<DIV class=3Dpara12 id=3Darticle>
<P>David Johnston, Victoria's right-to-sleep protester, has been on a =
hunger=20
strike at the Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre for 30 =
days.</P>
<P>Johnston is a homeless man who has been repeatedly arrested and =
jailed since=20
2004 for camping in Beacon Hill Park and sleeping on the grounds of St. =
Ann's=20
Academy. Every time he's been released, Johnston has returned to St. =
Ann's to=20
assert what he believes is his right to sleep outdoors on "public access =

space."</P>
<P>Johnston said the reasons for his hunger strike are simple -- he =
believes the=20
Crown is corrupt, and he thinks no one should eat in jail.</P>
<P>The authorities are powerless to stop him from starving to death. He =
has=20
signed an order that prevents prison or medical officials from =
force-feeding him=20
or hooking him up to an intravenous drip if he passes out -- an event he =

believes will happen in six to 10 days.</P>
<P>His battle, which sparked the establishment of tent cities at St. =
Ann's and=20
Cridge Park last fall by other homeless people, has frustrated courts to =
the=20
point where Johnston is now serving consecutive sentences of 120 and 90=20
days.</P>
<P>The two sentences are the latest in a series. His sentences started =
with=20
conditional discharges on Dec. 21, 2004, after he was found guilty of =
two counts=20
of mischief for trying to set up camp at St. Ann's Academy. Subsequent =
sentences=20
were for breaches of court-imposed conditions, and all the breaches =
involved=20
showing up at St. Ann's. Over the course of 11 court appearances, his =
sentences=20
have increased from one day, to three, to seven, to 14, 30, 90 and =
finally 120=20
days, starting July 6.</P>
<P>Each time he's been in jail, Johnston has gone on a hunger strike, =
but with=20
the longer sentences, that's increasingly putting his life in =
danger.</P>
<P>B.C. Corrections spokesman Derek Tangedal is unable to discuss =
Johnston's=20
case but confirmed that if an inmate goes on a hunger strike, prison =
staff can't=20
force the inmate to eat.</P>
<P>This week, the impact of the hunger strike was apparent. Red prison =
sweats=20
hung off his normally robust frame. His weight has dropped to 143 pounds =
from=20
170. Johnston spends his day in solitary confinement where officials can =
keep=20
close tabs on his declining health. He said he drinks water, watches the =
Food=20
Network on a small colour TV in his cell, and fantasizes about dumpster=20
diving.</P>
<P>"I feel like an old man," he said. "If someone punched me in the =
mouth right=20
now, all my teeth would fall out. My gums have receded an inch."</P>
<P>His mother, Lea Johnston, visits him every day. She drove to Victoria =
from=20
Alberta after Johnston phoned her collect from jail last week.</P>
<P>"People want me to talk him into eating, but I kind of believe in =
what he's=20
doing," she said outside the jail. "I would never ask him to give it up. =
It=20
would be like Mary saying to Christ: 'You don't really have to do that. =
You can=20
hang out at home and drink wine all day in the sunshine.' "</P>
<P>Lea is a Christian who believes God will keep her son alive. On her =
visits to=20
Wilkinson Road she wears a flowing white dress that she calls her angel=20
dress.</P>
<DIV class=3Dpara12 id=3Darticle>
<P>Johnston wants to appeal his sentence. He said he won't return to St. =
Ann's=20
this time if he is released. He is encouraged by a lawyer's legal =
challenge on=20
behalf of tent city participants that uses the Charter of Rights to =
contest=20
bylaws banning camping in parks. "I wouldn't have breached (at St. =
Ann's) in the=20
first place if I'd known about this charter challenge," said Johnston. =
"If they=20
win, it would be illegal to arrest someone for sleeping in public access =

space."</P>
<P>Johnston wants people to write to the attorney general and the=20
lieutenant-governor asking for his release from the facility. Lea also =
wants=20
people to write to the authorities on his behalf. "Don't let someone die =
for=20
sleeping on a park bench," she=20
pleaded.</P></DIV></DIV></DIV></DIV>

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