Alumni Weekend Escalation
JCUA is a proud member of the Trauma Center Coalition, organizing for a Level I adult trauma care center at the University of Chicago. The South Side is witness to a disproportionate amount of the city’s gun violence, yet it contains none of the city’s adult trauma centers, creating a “trauma center desert”.
Last weekend was alumni weekend at the University of Chicago. The coalition organized a week of actions leading up to and during this time to make the alumni aware of their alma mater’s refusal to support their own community by bringing back the much needed adult Level I trauma center.
President Zimmer sent a University wide email in response to the escalation of actions over the weekend. Zimmer’s response failed to mention key events including the assault on JCUA’s Director of Organizing (read more below). In response to Zimmer’s attempt to condemn the coalition’s actions, Students for Health Equity (SHE) released their own statement in reaction. They say “While in his email, President Zimmer and Provost Isaacs tried to paint trauma center activists as acting without regard for the safety of those who may find themselves affected by the civilly disobedient actions, we must remind them that it is out of respect for human life that this campaign exists.”
JCUA stands with the other members of the Trauma Center Coalition in calling upon the university open a Level I Adult Trauma Center. Confronting President Zimmer publicly, in front of alumni, brings attention in a way that is impossible to ignore. Veronica Morris Moore of Fearless Leading by the Youth (FLY), sums up:
“I think this entire week went great. I think we showed people power. I think we showed that no matter what the University of Chicago does, break a wall, break a window, lock people in jail for two days, turn up music over people’s voices, were gonna be heard, were gonna make our demands clear.”
► A summary of the campaign from The Guardian: Obama Library Not the Urgent Care Chicago Needs As Protests Overshadow ‘Final Campaign’
Administration Building Occupation
On Wednesday, June 3, the coalition organized a peaceful occupation of the U of C administration building to ask for a meeting with President Zimmer to discuss the possibility of opening an adult level 1 trauma center. The University responded aggressively with firefighters who cut through drywall with axes and broke through glass windows to get into the building. All nine of the protestors were arrested and held at the 51st and Wentworth jail for an unprecedented 45 hours. Eventually all were released on i-bonds and a court date is scheduled for June 18.
Read more about this action:
► Press release featuring the demands of the Coalition: Students for Health Equity (SHE) Press Release
Die-In and Rally
On Saturday, June 6, members of the Coalition disrupted President Zimmer’s speech at the Annual Alumni Awards, again asking him to meet to discuss the opening of a Level I adult trauma center. Instead, President Zimmer walked out and cancelled the event, forcing the ceremony to end early. We were appalled to learn that as alumni left the building, our colleague, Marla Bramble, was verbally and physically assaulted on the Univ. of Chicago campus while exercising her constitutional right to 1st amendment speech. The individual who committed the assault, Russ Zajtchuk, is a former president of the Univ. of Chicago Medical and Biological Alumni Association. Protesters had to stand in front of the bus this man got on to make sure he could not get away before University police arrived, at which point he was arrested. Marla is okay and will be pressing charges.
Following the disruption, 150 campaign supporters marched across the main quad where Alumni Weekend activities were taking place. A die-in was staged inside a tent where an event was happening to symbolize the lives that have been lost due to lack of trauma care on the South Side.
Read more about this action:
► WGN Coverage – “U of C Protest Leads to Fight Between Alumni, Demonstrators”