Updated 11/15/11 – 11:01 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Members of Occupy Chicago staged a lenghthy sit-in outside Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office at City Hall, in protest of planned budget cuts to mental health clinics.
Chanting “where is the mayor,” the protesters – some wearing hospital gowns over their street clothes – marched to City Hall earlier in the day and staged a rally outside the mayor’s office before starting their sit-in around noon.
About 10 protesters were behind a police barricade directly in front of the mayor’s office late Tuesday afternoon, while about 30 others were on the other side of that barricade.
About 10 protesters were still in the building as of 10 p.m., although the building was closed to the public. Around 10:30 p.m., the remaining protesters finally decided to go home.
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Initially, some protesters said they planned to stay the entire night, even though there are no restrooms open in that part of City Hall and the rest of the building was closed.
Police had threatened to write tickets for trespassing, but some protesters said they were willing to be arrested if necessary.
They were speaking out against budget cuts that would force some mental health clinics in the city to close and privatize others.
Activist Alex Goldenberg said he believes privatization would “result in poor services for consumers. It’s going to result in poor working conditions for the workers and it’s going to result in higher costs, potentially, for the city and just worse outcomes for everybody involved.”
Mental health advocate Dan Boris says if clinics are closed, some patients will probably go off their medications, and have difficulty leading a normal life.
“When people with severe mental illnesses don’t have a normal life, they affect others in their community. They affect their family members. They affect their neighbors,” Boris said.
Although the protesters eventually disbanded before the night was out, they said they still wanted a meeting with the mayor about the budget cuts to mental health clinics.