— TraumaCare Coalition (@TraumaCenterNow) June 5, 2015
Protests at the University of Chicago Wednesday (Jun. 3) led to the arrest of nine men and women who locked themselves inside a building in order to lobby for the development of a trauma center at the hospital there. The individuals were barricaded inside an administration vestibule and took the elevators offline, according to reports from the school.
As reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, police officers and firemen worked in tandem to restore the building to working order. The Trauma Center Coalition protest went on for two hours before the authorities were able to shut them down.
From the Chicago Sun-Times:
“The University of Chicago is deeply committed to ensuring freedom of expression and the rights of protesters to express a wide range of views,” said Jeremy Manier, a university spokesman in a prepared statement. “Actions that endanger the safety of our community members or violate the laws that protect our community are unacceptable.”
The protesters — who occupied the vestibule at the south entrance of Levi Hall — have been charged with criminal trespassing, mob action and resisting/obstructing a peace officer, officials said.
The Trauma Center Coalition demanded the release of the four men and five women who were detained. One of the protesters is a student at the university, according to a statement from the coalition.
The coalition claims that university officials made things worse by not yielding to the protesters’ demands for a meeting with the school’s president, Robert Zimmer. They also say firefighters broke windows and cut drywall to break through the barricade.
One of the coalition’s main reasons to demand the building of a Level 1 center is that it would better serve the community in which the university is based, calling the high-violence area a “trauma desert.”
The call for a trauma center was sparked in 2010 by the drive-by shooting death of Woodlawn youth leader Damian Turner. Activists and family members say Turner died because he had to be rushed more than nine miles across town, although the shooting happened four blocks from the University of Chicago hospital.
The coalition says it intends to continue protests.