Thursday Jun 14, 201212:53 AM GMT
[VIDEO] 6 activists arrested at Chicago Public Health Department
Wed Jun 13, 2012 11:39PM
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While six of the city's 12 mental health clinics have now been closed for nearly two months, Chicago's Mental Health Movement, a group of clients and advocates demanding the facilities regain city funding, is not letting them go quietly.


On Tuesday, protesters occupied the Chicago Department of Public Health and refused to leave until they had a promise the six closed clinics would be reopened, and a letter of resignation from Health Commissioner Dr. Bechara Choucair, according to a release from the Movement.


Six protesters were arrested for trespassing Tuesday night, among at least 50 advocates who joined the demonstration, Fox Chicago reports.


Many of the activists involved in the public health department occupation came from the Woodlawn Clinic, where Mental Health Movement members have been camped out since it closed in early April. Another group of protesters have also set up a protest site outside the also-closed Logan Square Clinic since mid-May.


Tuesday's demonstrations marked the two-month anniversary of the clinic closures, and also commemorated the death of patient leader Helen Morley one week earlier, according to a release from the Mental Health Movement. Morley, an active member of the opposition, was quoted repeatedly in the press emphasizing her reliance on the Beverly-Morgan Park Mental Health Center saying "if you close my clinic, I will die." Some advocates say they believe the stress of the closures contributed to her death. Huffington Post




The six clinics have been closed for about two months now in an effort by the city to save money. The mayor has said that doing away with half of mental health providers will save the city about $3 million.


But advocates and clients argue that doing so will prevent mental health patients from getting the care and medication that they need. They are already pointing to one victim of the closures of the clinics: A woman who proclaimed that, "If you close my clinic, I will die." She later did, and some say the stress involved in the situation contributed to her death.


Activist N'Dana Carter called Health Commissioner Dr. Bechara Choucair a "butcher" before demanding his resignation.


"Dr. Choucair has done nothing but tell lies," Carter said. "Right now people are still being turned away from clinics."


Protesters say many patients can't afford to pay higher fees, and more clinics are needed. But The Chicago Department of Public Health says the clinic changes will allow more than 1,000 new patients to access city mental health services.



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