CHICAGO, May 18, 2012 — Protesters gathered at a Chicago Transit Authority el station near Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home this morning. They were starting a morning and afternoon of awareness about mental health issues. They are protesting the closing of several mental health clinics throughout the city, blaming Emanuel.
Several patients and medical professionals affected by the closings were present and were speakers.
The protesters gathered at the el station, some donning hospital gowns, and prepared to walk through the neighborhood, ringing door bells to ask people where the nearest mental health clinic is. The el station is a few blocks from the mayor Emanuel’s home. Their direct action was intended to annoy his neighbors.
The protesters were to meet later at Horner Park, just over a mile west, for a rally. It was reported they interfered with and delayed several scheduled athletic events, including baseball and softball games.
After the rally they marched back and rallied on in front of Emanuel’s residence, then held a sit down protest. Approximately 300 to 400 protesters filled the street he lives on.
The protesters were peaceful and there was a festive air to the event. The only anger among the protesters came from the speakers and was directed at the mayor’s closing of the mental health clinics and spending millions of dollars to bring NATO to Chicago. If there was little overt anger, there was passive hostility in the choice of days for the protest: It is widely known that Emmanuel is a very serious practicing Jew, and the protest was held on the Jewish sabbath. That fact would not have been lost on the pro-cultural diversity, politically correct types who organized the protest.
The police formed a line with bicycles from Emanuel’s residence to one half block north. Several protesters tried to taunt and provoke the officers. Most protesters called them “the soldiers of the 1 percent.” Police ignored them and stood quietly.
Many of the protesters had “media passes.” The passes stated they were “citizen journalist” documenters for Occupy Chicago or whichever Occupy group they represented. Many also had the latest greatest electronic and media gadgetry, all made by the very same corporations they are protesting, corporations which are owned or led by the 1 percent. Some of those corporations are government and defense contractors.
Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the feminist group Code Pink: Women for Peace, participated in the protest. Benjamin is also involved with the left-wing organization, United For Peace and Justice. She is a high profile personality and celebrity in the peace movement. She posed with a pink cardboard cutout of a rifle with flowers coming out of the barrel. She posed for pictures with several people in true celebrity fashion.
Several neighbors we talked to were somewhat blasé about the protest, but they are strong supporters of the mayor and were put out over the protesters disparaging him publicly with profanity.
The mayor’s block is a leafy tree lined street with mostly large, single-family homes. Many were built at the turn of the last century or in the late 1800s. The area has a suburban or small town feel to it.
The one incongruity was two ice cream vendors with push carts. They decided to take advantage of the opportunity and practice a little good old-fashioned American capitalism
The protest ended up peacefully. The protesters started to wander off until there were only a few left. They held another sit down at a busy intersection just blocks away. It is unknown whether they wished the mayor “good sabbath” before they departed.
Peter V. Bella is a retired Chicago Police Officer, freelance journalist and photojournalist, cook, and raconteur. He likes to be the irreverent sharp stick that pokes, prods, and annoys. His opinions are his and his alone. Mr. Bella is a member of the National Press Photographers Association and the Society for Professional Journailsits.
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.