Occupy D.C. members take up hunger strike for D.C. statehood

(Photo: Flickr/seyre)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Three Occupy D.C. protesters are adding representation in Congress for the District of Columbia to their list of causes.

The protesters are planning to begin a hunger strike Thursday. They say they will refuse all food and drink only water until Congress and President Barack Obama take action to give the district full voting representation in Congress and full control over its local budget and laws.

The District has only a nonvoting delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, to the House. The most recent effort to give the district a voting representative ended in 2009 when the Democratic-led House declined to bring a bill to the floor.

The measure had been amended to strike down the district's tough gun-control laws.

Occupy D.C. is not the first group to take up the matter of D.C. statehood in 2011. In April, dozens of protesters, including Mayor Vincent Gray and members of the D.C. Council, were arrested during a D.C. Vote protest on Capitol Hill.

Meanwhile, dozens of activists protesting the government's failure to help the unemployed are marching to the Capitol to pray for and shout at members of Congress - above all, House Speaker John Boehner.

The demonstrators include Occupy Wall Street and unions, who say too many laws help the richest Americans. Earlier this week, they shut down Washington's K Street lobbying corridor and crashed a fundraiser for GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich.

On Thursday, organizers are holding a prayer vigil and marching across Capitol Hill to try to surround Boehner's offices.

The Ohio Republican says his party wants to extend unemployment insurance, but only if doing so is paid for by budget cuts. The protesters call the Ohio Republican "the spokesperson in Congress for the 1 percent" richest Americans.