What began as a chalky gray winter day, threatening snow in a stiffening wind, turned suddenly cold along Chicago’s south shore. Snow balanketed the city from the previous day’s storm. It gave way to glimpses of sunlight, pulling that snow in patcheds from slick sidewalks. Along the curbs, it grayed and dulled to slush.
Brian and I found a bit better than 60 stalwart activists rallied along Cottage Grove at 60th Street. To one side of the street, the sprawling and austere university campus, juxtaposed opposite by empty lots and public housing.
Hoping for a 12:30 start, they pushed off finally at just before 1, chanting, holding banners and waving to the supportive horn blows from passing cars. The new $700 million U of C hospital was less than two blocks away, and slated to open this week. It stood as a glaring accusation to the indifference to the slow death of the surrounding community. This was not the first protest here.
The agrieved and agitated had come here on January 27th, gathering quietly before making their demands known that the hospital’s arbitrary age cutoff for trauma patients over the age of 16 could already be measured in several lives. Already young men and women were dying for lack of trauma care and accessibility on these troubled South side streets, having to travel to the far south side, to the west side, Stroger Hospital or Northwestern for emergency care. For those familiar with the city, those are daunting distances, most especially when seconds mean the difference between life and death.
On that day in January, over-zealous university police and university officials failed in established and agreed upon protocols. Violent and, to this observer, staged arrests were meant to promote a sense that the protesters were unlawful or belligerent. Several of those arrested peacfully submitted to police. Toussaint Losier, a student organizer was grabbed as he was leaving, as ordered, and mobbed by several officers. The incident was caught, despite that police arrested one videoagrapher, on camera, showing a much different story than the police and university currently maintain. They still have refused to drop charges, using the court case as a bludgeon against opponents who lack the financial means of the university.
At the hospital, spokesperson for F.L.Y., Fearless leading by the Youth, Veronica Morris-Moore read a list of demands, which included dropping the unfair and unfounded charges against the arrestees. With her were mothers and relatives of young men whose lives might have been saved if there was local trauma care for the South side. One side chided the hospital’s advertising tag line, reading: “At the Forefront of What?”
At the home of the University president, the protesters, including mothers and friends who have lost loved ones in violence on the South side, delivered 4,000 signatures from the surrounding neighborhood. The president, however, did not or would not dignify the protesters with a response. It begs the question, when lives are at stake, what will it take for the university to honestly and justly confront this issue? The clock is measured in lives lost, and that blood is on their hands. As of this post, the university had no comment on the protesters demands, or about the charges against the arrestees.
Catch 900poundgorilla’s WC Turck and Brian Murray each Sunday 8-9am only on Our Town with Mike Sanders, at Chicago’s Progressive Talk, WCPT AM and FM, and streaming online. Friend us on Facebook at Revolution and Beer. And if you have a cause to champion, please let us know as we work to become the grassroots support network for Chicago Activists and community organizers.
Catch the beer of the week review with 900poundgorilla’s WC Turck and Brian Murray each Sunday 8-9am only on Our Town, at Chicago’s Progressive Talk, WCPT AM and FM, and streaming online. Friend us on Facebook at Revolution and Beer. And find all of the great beers we review each week at Louis Glunz Beer Inc., http://www.glunzbeers.com