CHICAGO—(ENEWSPF)—February 26, 2013. A month after a peaceful sit-in demanding trauma care was violently repressed by the University of Chicago Police Department, three of the four people arrested at the demonstration will appear in court. They will be joined at a press conference beforehand by neighborhood youth and community member as well as students, faculty and staff of the University of Chicago to decry the police action, demand all charges be dropped, and continue to press for trauma care for Chicago’s south side.
At the protest one Ph.D student was knocked to the ground by the police and arrested as was the cameraman and several people were pushed, dragged and hit by police. Four people were arrested, including a King College Prep student. The King College Prep student was later released without charges. The remaining three are being charged with trespassing, with one of them – FLY ally and U of C PhD student Toussaint Losier – also facing a resisting arrest charge. The aftermath of the arrests and violent police behavior has rocked the University of Chicago campus, leading to over 2,000 people signing petitions to drop the charges and to get a trauma center, in addition to widespread press coverage and the scheduling of several faculty-led discussions about the conduct of the U of C police, which has had several other notorious incidents of racial profiling and aggressive conduct.
After several years of trying to get the University of Chicago – the richest and most publicly subsidized single hospital in Chicago – to re-open its level 1 trauma center to help save lives of trauma victims in the neighborhoods that surround it, members of Fearless Leading by the Youth (FLY) and their allies reached a breaking point last Sunday and decided to sit-in at the U of C’s new $700 million building, saying that the new $700M research building ignores the immediate needs of the low income communities of color which surround it.
Community, students and alumni sat-in to demand the University invest in trauma care. The first step they are asking the University to take to address this need is to raise the age of their children’s trauma center from 15 to 21.
“Its unfair for this community not to have a trauma center, for all the incidents going on… Its heartless,” says Sheila Rush, whose son Damian Turner was caught by a stray bullet in 2009 four blocks from the U of C but was taken 10 miles away to Northwestern where he died.
Protesters say the University has a responsibility to its surrounding community which it is ignoring. There is a gun violence epidemic in communities of color which is making national headlines and the University to ignore the immediate needs of the largely low income communities of color surrounding them, say protesters. They point to white privilege and greed as the causes for the U of C to ignore communities of color in crisis around it and say that posture of elitism and racial privilege should be unacceptable for an institution of higher learning.
“There needs to be attention brought to this, a $700M research building versus however many millions it would take to care for the children who are dying,” explains Fearless Leading by the Youth member Veronica Morris-Moore, one of the sit-in participants.
The University of Chicago Hospital opened The Children’s Comer Hospital in 2006 which has a children’s trauma center but only take children up to age 15. Even though they sit in the middle of a gun violence epidemic claiming the lives of dozens of children every year.
In 2011 on the South East Side there were around 120 children aged 17 – 18 in need of trauma care due to gunshot wounds. 30 of these children died. Aged 17 – 21 there were over 200 children in need of trauma care due to gunshot wounds and 72 of these children died. These are lives the U of C Hospital could have saved, say protesters.
WHAT: Press conference followed by court hearing
WHEN: Tuesday February 26th, 12:30pm
WHERE: 51st and Wentworth Courthouse, branch 34
WHO: “Trauma center 4” arrestees plus other members and allies of Fearless Leading by the Youth (FLY)