Mental health advocates and members of Occupy Chicago barricaded themselves inside a mental health clinic on Woodlawn Avenue in Chicago this morning demanding that Mayor Rahm Emanuel back off of plans to close the clinic at the end of April. Emanuel’s plan was to consolidate 12 city clinics into six.
Demonstrators chanted and blocked the entrance to the clinic throughout the night. They put up barricades in front of the doors, made from steel gates, piping and quick-dry cement.
Police used a chainsaw to cut through the makeshift barricades.
“Chicago Police officers came with bull cutters, chainsaws and handcuffs to forcibly remove the folks who had said they really had no choice but to put their bodies on the line, and do whatever they could do to keep this clinic open,” said Tousannif Losier of the Mental Health Project, which is leading the protest.
Protesters insist on saving the clinic, which is one of four slated to close under city budget cuts. Two have already closed.
“Many of those people who are the most vulnerable people, who have been occupying this clinic tonight in the last stand to try and save what is ours, and have gotten nowhere in City Council; nowhere with our calls to aldermen,” said Sophia Kortchna, also of the Mental Health Movement.
Another demonstration is already planned to take place at the clinic on Saturday, April 14.