(CBS) — Chaos erupted at a town hall meeting Wednesday night.
It was supposed to be a discussion about the new budget, but when the topic of Dyett High School closing came up, protesters marched toward the stage and the mayor.
The meeting with about 500 people on hand was presumably to share their ideas on cutting the city’s 2016 $233 million budget shortfall.
One by one, the mayor heard a peaceful sampling of opinion on various issues; get rid of the red light cameras and lower property taxes.
But throughout the meeting, there were loud interruptions from scores of protesters including a dozen or so hunger strikers. They are lobbying Emanuel for a new school in the building that used to house the shuttered Dyett High School.
Within minutes after demanding a meeting with the mayor, dozens of the protesters suddenly stormed the stage. It was chaos as they took over the stage and the mayor’s security detail and uniformed police rushed into the noisy confusion. In a matter of scary minutes, they were able to escort Mayor Emanuel and other city officials safely through the crowd and back stage.
It was announced first that Emanuel would meet there with the protesters, then moments later another announcement that the meeting had been cancelled.
When the melee was over, it was announced that no arrests had been made and Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy was there watching over what was happening.
Mayor Emanuel spokesperson Kelley Quinn released a statement saying, “It is unfortunate that everyone’s voice could not be heard tonight after some attendees disrupted the forum, causing it to end early. The moderator and the Mayor made a number of attempts to restart and finish the forum, and offered to meet with demonstrators tonight, however those attempts were unsuccessful. We are committed to this process, and to ensuring residents have a voice in this budget, and we are looking forward to the final budget forum tomorrow evening.”