NATO Protesters Stage Sit-In At Emanuel’s House Over Mental Health Clinic Closures
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UPDATED 05/19/12 12:20 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Hundreds of protesters gathered on the street around Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s neighborhood Saturday, the day before Chicago hosts the NATO Summit.
As the protesters marched down the mayor’s street, they were greeted by a line of police officers on bicycles in front of his home. The protest was peaceful and many demonstrators were seen sitting in the street.
As CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports, the protesters were calling for “health care, not warfare.” They are angry about the city’s decision to close mental health clinics.
Occupy Chicago members met Saturday at Horner Park, at California Avenue and Irving Park Road. The unseasonable heat led many of the protesters to move under trees, but some stood at the street corner and held signs to attract the attention of motorists and pedestrians on westbound Irving Park Road.
The group then marched to the mayor’s house in the 4200 block of North Hermitage Avenue. The march was largely symbolic, protesters acknowledge, as the mayor was not at his home on Saturday.
With the NATO Summit coming on Sunday, out-of-town anti-NATO protesters have been joining up with the Mental Health Movement, which has been protesting against the Emanuel administration’s decision to close six city mental health clinics.
Some protesters have been camping out in front of the Woodlawn Health Clinic, 6337 S. Woodlawn Ave., which closed at the end of last month.
“It’s a way of drawing attention to people to need health care,” said Anne Scheetz, a Chicago activist.
The Woodlawn clinic was the subject of heated protests before it closed. At one point, 23 people were arrested outside the clinic, after they barricaded themselves in front of the doors using steel gates, piping and quick-dry cement.
The Emanuel administration released a statement about the choice to demonstrate at the mayor’s house: “The Emanuel Administration respects the First Amendment rights of all to demonstrate and express their views. The Administration is equally committed to promoting the health and wellness of Chicagoans in every neighborhood and the reforms the Department of Public Health is implementing will increase the total number of people who will be served by City resources throughout Chicago with high-quality, vital health and mental health services, and better support people without health insurance. Because of these reforms residents will have access to new services, more services, and better services.”