Registered nurses from the Chicagoland area rallied at City Hall today to condemn the Emanuel administration's decision to arrest Occupy Chicago protesters and nurses late Saturday night in Grant Park. Two registered nurses, Jan Rodolfo and Martese Chism, found themselves in jail for nearly 24 hours before their release at 1:15 a.m. Monday morning.
“I’m completed insulted by the way we were treated,” said Rodolfo. “Nurses would never treat patients the way we were treated last night in the jail. I believe there was a great deal of effort in the taunting, in general, to make it as punitive as possible, [like] he fact they were handing out mattresses on mainstream arrests, but our mattresses were confiscated. We were told a different set of rules applied us. We were told if we were uncomfortable we should have thought about that before we stayed in Grant Park.”
Nurses and Occupy Chicago protesters entered city hall this morning to showcase their displeasure with the mayor’s treatment of the movement and the more than 300 arrests that have taken place so far. Dialogue with a mayoral aid, First Deputy Chief of Staff Felicia Davis, only furthered the divide and escalated the disconnect between the mayor’s office and protesters when she walked away in frustration and refusal to use the human mic system.
In the build up to the confrontation Davis tried to speak to a single person out of a group of approximately 150, believing they should all be able to hear. Davis blamed Occupy Chicago for weeks of cancelled meetings and said she was not in a position to do anything about the arrests.
“It’s very difficult to negotiate when the faces keep changing,” said Davis. “I’m willing to sit down and have an open and respectful dialogue. I just need to know who the the real, appropriate, valid people are to have that happen.”
National Nurses United, a union representing nurses across the country, have set up first aid tents in five other cities without incident. During the second attempt to occupy Grant Park, police took down the tent the group put up on Saturday and arrested the two nurses and protesters protecting it.
“We are adament that the Chicago protesters have the right to speak,” said Chism, an RN at Stroger Cook County Hospital. Chism said she was denied a phone call and cannot believe her right to assemble was denied.
Check back with Progress Illinois for video and interviews from today's action at Chicago's city hall.