Protesters and their supporters are demanding answers from administrators at the University of the Chicago Medical Center for the way university police officers handled a weekend protest.
Some demonstrators say they were roughed up while demonstrating against the new medical center and calling for the return of emergency services at the hospital.
The new facility comes with a $700 million price tag, but it does not have a trauma center for adults. The medical center only accepts trauma victims under 16 years old, so adults who have been shot, stabbed, or injured in a car crash would have to be treated somewhere else.
About 50 protesters arrived Sunday to demonstrate that there’s no convenient trauma center for the South Side of Chicago. They staged a sit in, but they were met by University of Chicago police officers.
The group released cell phone video of the confrontation. They say it shows officers pushing, kicking, and punching some of the demonstrators. Four protesters were arrested.
“Rather than actually allowing folks the opportunity to disperse, they’re pushing people out the door and folks fell down,” said Toussaint Losier. “One of my students was actually on the ground, and I was afraid that she was going to get trampled.”
“Completely disrespectful and unconscionable for the University to treat members of the community, students, and alumni that way when all they’re demanding is access to basic care that they have the resources to provide,” said Alex Goldenberg. “Instead they met that demand with violence. Just another example of their privilege and their lack of concern and their elitism.”
University of Chicago police have not commented, but a university spokesperson said the protesters were not authorized to be on the property. The spokesperson says it takes the incident very seriously and is looking into how the protest was handled.
The four people who were arrested were released Monday morning. They’re charged with trespassing and resisting arrest, and are due in court February 26.
Their movement for an adult trauma care center started shortly after Damian Turner was shot and killed in 2010.
He was shot three-and-a-half blocks from the University of Chicago Medical Center.
But he died on the way to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, which has a trauma care center that treats adults, but it was ten miles away.
The university says it has no plans to reinstate level 1 trauma services for adults.