Vigil to be Held Friday, February 1 in Response to Police Attack on Trauma Center Protesters

Vigil against U of C violence draws parallels between violence of denying health care, attacking protesters

CHICAGO—(ENEWSPF)—January 31, 2013. Less than a week after a peaceful sit-in demanding trauma care was violently repressed by the University of Chicago Police Department, neighborhood youth and community members will join 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. The event will commemorate the many victims of violence as well as other traumatic injuries who have had to travel long distances for care due to the lack of any trauma care for people over 15 on Chicago’s south side. Protesters will speak to the ways in which the excessive force used against a peaceful sit-in parallels the denial of care for south side residents. 

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.

After several years of trying to get the University of Chicago – the richest and most subsidized single hospital in Chicago – to re-open its level 1 trauma center to  help save lives of trauma victims in the violence-plagued neighborhoods that surround it, members of Fearless Leading by the Youth (FLY) and their allies reached a breaking point last Sunday and decided to occupy 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 simple step the University could 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 claim 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: “Flowers for the fallen” vigil in response to last Sunday’s U of C attack on protesters demanding south side trauma center

WHEN: Friday February 1st, 2013 – 12:30pm

WHERE: Start at Harper Library 1116 E 59th St (North doors inside quad), march to administration building at 58th and Ellis

WHO: Fearless Leading by the Youth and Students for Health Equity plus supporters from community and campus

VISUALS: Roses commemorating lost lives dropped on main U of C quad,  giant billboard juxtaposes victims of lack of trauma care and images of police violence from protest Sunday