Hunger strike underway as activist sets up camp at London City Hall

Activist Dan Oudshoorn stands outside of his tent at London City Hall. He began a hunger strike on August 2nd, 2022. (Craig Needles/Blackburn Media)

The hunger strike has begun at London City Hall.

#TheForgotten519, a group of front line workers aiming to create change, held a rally at 300 Dufferin Street on Tuesday morning. One of its members, Dan Oudshoorn, announced that he would stop eating until the city meets the group’s demands.

“What we have seen is a worsening of the situation every year,” Oudshoorn said when asked why he’s beginning the hunger strike. “We felt it was necessary to take a different course of action to prevent these deaths.”

“The front line workers themselves are dealing with an astronomical amount of grief,” he added.

There were roughly 100 supporters of the group and Oudshoorn outside of London City Hall on Tuesday morning. Many ate granola bars with Oudshoorn, which he said will be the last thing he eats until the City of London makes significant changes the way staff interact with people in the city who are homeless.

#TheForgotten519 issued three demands to the City of London last week.

•Immediate ending of the removal of encampments, tents, campsites, or squats in city parks, along the Thames Valley Parkway, and in empty city lots, or lots left to fall into disrepair by the property owners.

•Immediate transition of the City of London’s Coordinated Informed Response (CIR) Team from a displacement model to a team that offers meaningful support (based on the self-identified needs of the campers) to campers at their campsites.

•Immediate creation of two indoor spaces (one in the core, one in the east end) that provide 24/7 support to people deprived of housing and shelter or needing a safe place to be.

On Tuesday, the third demand changed slightly to: Begin work immediately on the creation of two indoor spaces (one in the core, one in the east end) that provide 24/7 support to people deprived of housing and shelter or needing a safe place to be.

“I think the city is aware that they can’t use some of the standard tactics to make us go away and make people forget about what’s going on,” Oudshoorn said outside of the tent he has set up at London City Hall. “There’s a huge groundswell of support.”

As for the strike, Oudshoorn says he will live in the tent outside of city hall and not eat until the rest of #TheForgotten519 leadership agrees to end the protest. He will only drink water with electrolyte supplements and take doctor prescribed medication.

“The city has the money in the budget, they have properties, this is not difficult,” he said.

Oudshoorn said there will be other events and actions planned by #TheForgotten519, but wouldn’t say what they were.