Davenporter Begins Fast to End War in Iraq


 DAVENPORT – Minutes after he announced plans to go on a fast to end the Iraq war, raingg_fast started falling. The brief shower likely was the first of many tests of will and health he’ll face.


Under a large, colorful umbrella with a cooler of water and cooler of juice, Gil Sierra began his two-week fast Monday morning in LeClaire Park to draw attention to how politicians have failed to pull out of the war and encourage others to reflect on the some 4,000 casualties it has caused.


The 59-year-old community activist and Iowa director for League of United Latin American Citizens plans to spend two weeks in the same spot in the park from 9 a.m. to sunset – only breaking for an Iowa City doctor appointment and family birthday party.



Mr. Sierra said he’s disappointed in presidential candidates who claim to be leaders but can’t convince their own colleagues to stop the war, and informed them of his plans to fast about three weeks ago. He said he’s also disappointed in the lack of activism by citizens.


“Maybe it will start here and pass it on, maybe it will spread nationwide,” he said. “All it takes is one person to stand up and be counted.”
Mr. Sierra shared experiences from his previous fasts. In 1987 while serving on the Davenport City Council, he fasted to bring attention to the use of pesticides. He fasted again in 1993 in memory of labor leader Cesar Chavez.


In addition to losing 28 pounds during one of his fasts, Mr. Sierra said he also experienced shaking, and vomiting after first returning to food. He said it takes about 10 days after ending a fast to get back to feeling normal.



Although Mr. Sierra thinks he knows what he’s getting into, his wife, Susan, isn’t sure. Mr. Sierra calls himself borderline diabetic, but Mrs. Sierra did not make the same distinction.
“I think it’s good what he’s doing, but for his health I don’t think it’s good for him because he’s been sick a lot,” she said. “And you can’t fast when you have diabetes.”


Mrs. Sierra said she hasn’t tried to stop her husband’s fasting because she knows he would do it anyway, but she is doing her best to make him aware of his health limitations and check on him a few times a day.



“You just do it as long as you can and then stop when you feel like you can’t,” she warned.
Mr. Sierra’s more focused on the two-hour parking limits near the park. He said he’s not concerned about weather because he’s got rain gear and his van is near by if it gets too intense.


Mr. Sierra invites anyone to join him in the park and pray. He said he’ll have colored ribbons for those who come – blue for peace; white for those who fast with him; red for those who support the troops.



“Anybody who wants to come down and meditate, pray for peace, read the Quran, read the Bible, read the Torah,” he said. “We’re all one people, all one human.”


Fast with Gil


Gil Sierra, 59, invites anyone to fast with him over the next two weeks to help bring an end to the Iraq war. People may join him at Davenport’s LeClaire Park for prayer, reflection and fasting.

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