Posted 1 year ago on April 13, 2012, 7:39 a.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
As part of an on-going austerity program closing down vital services from schools to transportation, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel plans to close six clinics throughout the city. But the 99% has another idea. Yesterday, while hundreds rallied outside, a group of patients, doctors, and Occupiers barricaded themselves inside the South Side´s Woodlawn Mental Health Clinic, one of the clinics slated for closure. via Occupy Chicago:
Mental Health Movement / Southside Together Organizing for Power (STOP)
Mental Health Clinic Facing Closure Occupied by Patients and Advocates
Mental Health Movement barricaded inside Woodlawn Clinic until Rahm Emanuel backs off clinic closures
Dozens of people who use Chicago's mental health clinics along with other advocates have barricaded themselves into the Woodlawn Clinic at 6337 S. Woodlawn, one of 6 clinics facing closure. They intend to remain there until Mayor Emanuel agrees to keep all of Chicago's public clinics open, fully funded and fully staffed.
Two of the clinics slated for closure - the Northwest Clinic in Logan Square and the Northtown Clinic in Rogers Park - shut their doors last Friday. Four others (Woodlawn, Auburn/Gresham, Back of the Yards and Beverly/Morgan Park) are scheduled to close April 30th. The Mental Health Movement, which put out a report and a video undermining the Chicago Department of Public Health's claim that all patients will continue to receive care, has been calling for hearings on the clinic closures since October. Despite repeated promises and a resolution calling for hearings, the Emanuel Administration has prevented any hearings from taking place in order to avoid public scrutiny of the plan, which has come under fire even from Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.
"We have tried everything we could to be heard. We visited Mayor Emanuel when he was a candidate. We delivered him over 4,000 letters. We have talked to almost all 50 Alderman. We have held press conferences, rallies and even sat-in for 10 hours on the 5th floor of City Hall. We are the ones who know the disaster these clinic closures will mean for our communities and our city but Mayor Emanuel been unwilling to listen to us, so we are taking drastic measures to avoid a tragedy and defend our human rights," says N'Dana Carter, who goes to one of the city clinics and is a spokesperson for the Mental Health Movement.
The people barricaded in the clinic have enough food and supplies to stay for months and are threatening to do so unless Mayor Emanuel meets the following five demands:
- Keep all 12 city mental health clinics public, open, fully funded and fully staffed
- Stop plans to privatize Chicago's 7 neighborhood health centers
- Hire more doctors, therapists, nurses, social workers and other clinic staff
- Reinstate the drug assistance program
- Expand the public mental health safety net to cover unmet community needs
Police cut locks and entered the building just after 1am, arresting 23. For updates, ways to get involved, and information on support for arrestees, follow #SaveOurClinics and @OccupyChicago on Twitter.
Update, 4/16: As of yesterday, patients, staff, advocates, and supporters have re-occupied Woodlawn by creating an encampment outside. Despite treacherous thunderstorms, the camp has lasted the night. All are encouraged to head down there! A press conference will take place this morning at 10am at the Chicago Dept of Public Health:
Southside Together Organizing for Power (STOP) / Mental Health Movement
Mental Health Movement protesters arrested for occupying clinic meet with Chicago Department of Public Health Patients will share stories at press conference of two people already hospitalized due to clinic closures, call on Mayor to reverse course
WHAT: Press conference prior to meeting between mental health clinic protesters and Chicago Department of Public Health
WHEN: Monday April 16th, 2012, 10am
WHERE: 333 S. State
WHO: Members of Mental Health Movement who were arrested for occupying one of clinics slated for closure
On Monday at 10am the Mental Health Movement will hold a press conference in front of the Chicago Department of Public Health at 333 S. State just prior to meeting with CDPH during the Community Mental Health Board monthly meeting. Some of the 23 people arrested during the occupation of the Woodlawn Clinic, one of the six mental health clinics slated to close this month will speak out and share stories of patients who are already slipping through the cracks. In particular, they will recount the story of two patients from the Northwest Mental Health Clinic, one of the two that has already closed.
"We occupied the Woodlawn Clinic after months of being ignored while trying to warn the Mayor about the disastrous consequences of closing clinics. Mayor Emanuel chose to send a SWAT team and chainsaws rather than listen to us. Now two of the clinics have already closed and exactly what we were trying to tell him would happen has begun to happen. We have at least two testimonies of patients currently in psychiatric hospitalization because they entered into crisis after the Northwest Clinic was closed. This has to stop. It is time for the Mayor to listen to those of us directly affected by his decision to close mental health clinics," says N'Dana Carter, spokeswoman for the Mental Health Movement.