Chicago Activists Enter Fifth Week of Hunger Strike to Protest School Closure

The Dyett High School hunger strikers have entered the fifth week of their protest insisting "We are prepared to die," DNAinfo reports.

A dozen hunger strikers have been demanding that Chicago Public Schools accept the proposal to convert Dyett High School into a Global Leadership and Green Technology Academy.

The hunger strikers returned to City Hall Monday to encourage Mayor Rahm Emanuel to have a "respectful conversation."

"As we announced on Sept. 3, Dyett will reopen as a neighborhood, open-enrollment high school in the fall of 2016," Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson said on Monday. "The new school concept was celebrated by a broad coalition of community groups, clergy, and elected officials representing Bronzeville and the larger South Side community, and it will incorporate key themes identified by the [Request For Proposals] process, such as a technology hub for the larger community, and the need for fine-arts programming that are consistent with the legacy of the school's namesake, Captain Walter H. Dyett."

Jitu Brown, a leader of the hunger strike, responded saying, "A compromise happens when two people come together and they work out together something that's agreeable to both parties. There was no compromise."

Brown said an art school "doesn't make sense," because "the arts is not a growth industry," while green technology is according to him.

"Don't give me crumbs and tell me it's a cake," Brown said. "Why should black children always accept less?"

Hunger protester Cathy Dale called the supporters of that proposal "vultures," saying they are "the people who have sold us out."

"We are prepared to die," Dale added. "We're not going to go away. We're just not going to go away."

"This is a very, very serious health situation for these individuals," said Dr. Peter Sporn of Northwestern University. "Really it's on the mayor now for this to end."

"This is a life-threatening situation at this point," Erin Raether of Nurses for Social Justice added. "They didn't look like this 29 days ago."

The hunger strikers have gone without solid food. Some have used protein shakes, juice, broths and sport drinks for energy.

Photo: DNAinfo/Ted Cox