Choice, Privilege and the Fight for South Side Trauma Care
On June 3rd of this year I, along with eight other trauma center activists, was arrested for participating in an action of civil disobedience on behalf of the Trauma Care Coalition. During this action we barricaded ourselves into the front lobby of the University of Chicago’s Administration Building. Our goal was to secure a meeting with University President Robert Zimmer to discuss the opening of a life-saving Level-I trauma center at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
We were detained by University and City Police for 45 hours, about four times longer than the average time people in the US are held for actions of civil disobedience. All nine of us were charged with criminal trespassing, mob action and resisting arrest. The 45 hours I spent in jail were some of the most challenging of my life; I was handcuffed to a bench in an interview room for eleven hours, I was denied access to my medications and to adequate food, and I was continuously dehumanized by the officers charged with protecting me. Three days after release from police custody, we all received letters from the University of Chicago informing us that we were permanently banned from the University’s campus as a consequence of our actions. Just this past week, the University sent a private investigator to my home at 7:00am to again deliver a letter explicitly banning me from campus for life.
This is one of the first times I have shared my experience publicly. Following my release, at the urging of my lawyers, I decided to keep a low public-profile until the legal proceedings related to my arrest were concluded. As a result, I have spent the past few months processing what was both a traumatic and empowering experience with family and friends. One of the most common questions I encountered in response to my arrest was ‘Why? Why choose to be arrested?’. As I have not been able to speak publicly to my experience until now, what follows is my attempt to offer an answer to what I think is ultimately a very important question. Read the rest of this entry »