CHICAGO (CBS) — A group of nurses picketed outside Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office Monday morning to express their outrage, after several nurses were arrested during the Occupy Chicago protests over the weekend.
Meanwhile, Occupy Chicago protesters are back on the streets, after 130 of them were arrested over the weekend. Some of the protesters were due in court Monday.
As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, the nurses, represented by the group National Nurses United, had set up a nurses’ station to provide basic first aid for Occupy Chicago protesters in Grant Park.
But over the weekend, the nurses were among 130 arrested by Chicago Police at the protest. The union said police also ripped down the nursing station.
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“Even in wartime, combatants respect the work of nurses and other first responders. Yet Mayor Emanuel and Chicago seem to care as little about that tradition as they do in protecting the constitutional rights of free speech and assembly.” said National Nurses United Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro said in a news release.
The nurses held a protest at City Hall Monday, and advised union members to call the mayor’s office and demand that all charges against the nurses and other protesters be dropped.
They called the police actions harassment and disrespect for those who are trying to exercise their free speech rights.
“First Amendment rights don’t stop at 11 p.m. at night. They’re 24-7,” said protester Jan Rodolfo. “It is not the case that a city ordinance should out-rule the provisions of the Constitution.”
City parks close at 11 p.m. The protesters were on the edge of Grant Park.
The group cites a Chicago Tribune report that city officials are seeking to get “tough” on protesters in preparation for the NATO and G8 summit meetings in May, and suggests that this policy might be behind the mass-arrests at Occupy Chicago rallies.
The Mayor’s office responded to the nurses’ accusations Monday.
“Since the Occupy Chicago protests began, the city has supported their right to protest freely and their freedom of speech, and the city has assisted with traffic and crowd control during their marches,” the Mayor’s office statement said. “The Mayor has asked Supt. Garry McCarthy and Corporation Counsel Steve Patton to identify additional ways that the City of Chicago can accommodate the Occupy Chicago protesters.”
But the mayor’s press secretary, who addressed the protesters a short time ago, said the protesters still need to follow the law. Park District ordinance requires all parks to be closed between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Meanwhile, Mayor Emanuel told reporters Monday that police didn’t even make any arrests until 12:30 p.m.
After leaving City Hall, the nurses boarded a bus to Springfield, where they plan to continue their protest.