Police arrested several mental health advocates who tried to enter the office of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel this afternoon to discuss the city closing down four mental health clinics today.
Protesters spent five hours boisterously chanting outside Emanuel’s office with refrains like “Shame on Rahm” and "Health Care is a Human Right".
Here is video of the protest:
Protesters, though, peacefully left City Hall on their own accord – raising the question of what's next for the Mental Health Movement coalition of advocates and patients.
The coalition did draw public attention to the city closing six of its qw public mental health clinics, a move that received scant criticism from City Council: Aldermen passed a budget that included the closings, 50-0, in November.
But the Mental Health Movement could not persuade City Council to re-examine their position with a hearing. And they were unable to get the mayor to reverse the six closings, which will be completed by the end of the day. The city’s only modification is a satellite mental health clinic at a to-be-determined location in the Woodlawn neighborhood.
N’Dana Carter, an organizer for the Mental Health Movement coalition, said that members would regroup tonight outside the Woodlawn Mental Health Clinic, which has served as the movement’s de facto headquarters.
Carter anticipated that the coalition would work with movements across the country that fight the privatization of health care services. A broader approach was suggested earlier today when Carter delivered letters to both the campaign headquarters of President Barack Obama and Chicago office of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.
First, though, advocates must address arrests from their protests. Carter and 22 other advocates who were arrested April 13 for trespassing at the Woodlawn clinic will appear in court tomorrow.
It is not yet known if the people arrested today will face criminal charges. According to Mental Health Movement members, seven people were arrested today at City Hall.