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6 Arrested At Protest Of Mental Clinic Closures

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Six people were arrested Tuesday during a demonstration at city public health offices downtown.

They were demanding the resignation of the city’s health commissioner in the wake of a decision to close half of the city’s 12 mental health centers in April.

The activists say the closure of the Beverly-Morgan Park Mental Health Center cost patient Helen Morley her life.

“She said, ‘If you close these clinics, I’ll die.’ And that’s what she did — she died,” friend Sharon Payne said.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports

Other protesters said that Morley made it clear how much she depended on her clinic and therapist, and claimed that stress from the clinic closures contributed to her death.

Activist N’Dana Carter called Health Commissioner Dr. Bechara Choucair a “butcher” before demanding his resignation.

“Dr. Choucair has done nothing but tell lies, Carter said. “Right now people are still being turned away from clinics.”

Those arrested tried to sit-in outside of Dr. Choucair’s office at 333 S. State St. The Chicago Department of Public Health issued a statement in which it said hospitalizations are down, all clients have personal transition plans, and that the reshuffle will allow more than 1,000 new patients to access city mental health services.

The protesters said many patients cannot afford higher fees, and said more clinics are needed, not fewer.

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