Chicago police officials began arresting demonstrators who were camped outside the Woodlawn Mental Health clinic this evening.
About a 10 of the 40 demonstrators were arrested outside of the clinic, 6337 S. Woodlawn Ave., according to witnesses.
According to members of the Mental Health Movement, the coalition of community organizations that organized the rally, accused Mayor Rahm Emanuel of refusing to listen to patients, health care workers, and advocates fighting to save public mental health services in Chicago.
The arrests were made after a police official went up to the demonstrators who had been protesting the closing of the clinic at about 10:30 p.m. and warned the demonstrators that they were trespassing on city land.
The police official warned the people that if they did not vacate the area by 11 p.m. they would be “affecting arrests”.
The demonstrators were loudly chanting that they were on public land but officials said they were on city property and told them to leave.
The protesters stood in the middle of a vacant lot in the 6300 block of South Woodlawn Avenue.
One hoisted up a sign that read, “Health care is a human right.” Three held up a bigger sign that stated: “Stop closing clinics now! We need our mental health infrastructure.”
They yelled out loud chants in unison such as “Health care is a human right! We won’t go without a fight!”
Several protesters stood and sat outside tents in the middle of the lot.
About a dozen Chicago police officers moved into the lot to escort a few of them away. One woman was being walked off by an officer in flex cuffs behind her back, chanting with the other protesters, “Shame on Rahm! Save our clinics!”
Several officers were removing the tents from the lot. You can also add that firefighters from Engine 63 headquarters arrived to the scene to extinguish the flames in the protesters’ barbecue grill. The protesters cheered on the firefighters as they rode away.
The outpatient clinic is one of six the city is closing as part of a plan to consolidate the work of 12 city-run facilities into six and build more active partnerships with private mental health organizations, city officials said. The Woodlawn clinic is scheduled to close April 30.
Woodlawn patients will be transferred either to another city-run center or a private mental health clinic within a four-mile radius of their current facility, the mayor’s office has previously said.