In an attempt to raise awareness about immigrant rights in the upcoming election, student organizations Conciencia Libre and MEChA endorsed a vigil for the Fast for Our Future campaign in front of Kerckhoff Hall on Thursday night.
The goal for the encampment is to collect one million pledges from voters who agree to vote for immigrant rights.
Participants go on a strict water fast for a maximum of 21 days until Election Day on Nov. 4.
Approximately 30 participants reside at the encampment 24 hours a day at La Placita Olvera in downtown Los Angeles. The encampment draws in more attention on weekends when supportive community members join the fast or volunteer on their days off, said Elvis Prado, a third-year sociology student.
Fasting has been used as a tool for spiritual and political movements throughout history to promote social resistance. It creates a feeling of necessary discomfort for those who come to learn more about our cause, said Ernesto Rocha, a fourth-year Chicana and Chicano studies and political science student, who fasted for three days.
Rocha said he continues to promote and advocate for their cause by redirecting his efforts toward organizing campaign activities. He said he wants to encourage voters to sign a pledge declaring that they will consider immigrant rights when voting.
Carla De Paz, a fourth-year political science student, is camping out and fasting for 14 days. De Paz is one of the many participants suffering physically from the demonstration, and she was confined to rest on doctors orders, Prado said. As a result, she was unable to appear at the Thursday night vigil.
Prado said he will be fasting for 21 days. He collapsed on a blanket on the grass upon arriving at the groups meeting.
Just taking a few steps takes a lot of energy out of me, but the cause keeps me motivated. Families are being separated, communities are living in fear, and people need to acknowledge that immigrants make up a huge part of our community and have always been the scapegoat for everything, Prado said. Thursday was his ninth day fasting.
Volunteers are organized by a committee called RISE, which provides support for the participants.
Six doctors have volunteered to monitor the fasting participants, though RISE is accepting any donations to help pay for regular blood tests, water and campaigning materials, Rocha said.
According to the RISE Web site, the group constitutes itself as a neutral party that does not support a specific candidate or proposition at this time. The organizations goal is to educate people about immigrant rights issues .
I support this cause in hopes that it will mobilize the community to urge the elected administration to respond to the raids and injustices in the outspoken immigrant community, said Ruby Rivera, a fourth-year Spanish and community and culture student. She said she fasted for five days.
RISE invites all interested community members to a student summit at La Placita Olvera this Saturday to gather and discuss nonviolent ways to support immigrant rights at a rally.
For more information on the groups efforts, visit fastforourfuture.com.