OCCUPY CLINICS – HEALTHCARE NOT WARFARE!
A call from Mental Health Movement to Occupy Wall Street and all others coming to Chicago to protest NATO and the war and austerity agenda of the 1%
To all our family from the global 99%,To all those who believe that healthcare is a human right,To all those coming to protest NATO and its wars for profit around the globe,To all those who have struggled with mental illness personally or with loved ones, To all those who have been denied healthcare,To all those who have waited all day in emergency rooms,To all those public servants facing layoffs or cuts to salary and pension,To all those who are sick and tired of being sick and tired, To all those who believe that another world is possible beyond this madness,
The Mental Health Movement calls on all protesters coming to Chicago to join us in the fight for healthcare not warfare. As NATO war-makers come to this city to plan wars that leave people traumatized and cost trillions of dollars, clinics that help people heal from trauma and deal with mental illness are being shuttered for lack of $2.3 million dollars. As our battle to save our clinics has intensified, Occupy Chicago and other Occupy groups around the city have become powerful allies. Now we ask members of Occupy Wall Street, other Occupy groups and all other sectors of the social movements coming to Chicago to protest NATO to join us in occupying clinics by setting up a 24/7 presence outside of recently closed mental health clinics. We will dramatize the contradictions of a system that finds billions to wage NATO’s endless wars for profit but leaves its most vulnerable without basic healthcare.
For 26 days, we have maintained an around-the-clock presence at the Woodlawn Clinic at 6337 S. Woodlawn, one of six mental health clinics recently closed by Mayor 1% Emanuel. On April 12th 23 people – most of us patients from clinics facing closure - barricaded ourselves inside of the Woodlawn Clinic, only to be evicted and arrested by the SWAT team and Chicago Police and sent to jail, the future home for the mentally ill who cannot find treatment. Upon release, we returned to the clinic and have been camped out 24/7 ever since. Through this struggle we have seen 41 people arrested but have reached thousands of Chicago residents with our stories. We will not be held back. The Huffington Post has called the struggle to save Chicago’s mental health clinics “the Birmingham and Stonewall of the mental health movement.” We consider this fight ground zero in the struggle for a world that sees healthcare as a right and invests in healing and human rights, not warfare and corporate subsidies.
Today, we are expanding our campaign to the Northwest Mental Health Clinic in Logan Square at 2354 N. Milwaukee. This clinic has served the predominately Latino community of Logan Square for 30 years. This is the first site of our expanded resistance to clinic closure. We know that we can count on the people mobilizing for the NATO demonstrations to respond to our call with the tactic of non-violence and in a way that continues to lift up the voices of those of us whose lives hang in the balance of this struggle. We are clear that our enemy is the system that deprives us of healthcare and other basic human rights, the politicians that administer that system, and the 1% who profit from it, not the police sent in to do Mayor 1%’s dirty work. Just as Occupy Chicago has stood with us, taken arrests with us, and been a true example of dignity and solidarity, we know that you too will see that our causes are one and the same and that we have nothing to lose and everything to gain by connecting local and global struggles.
Mayor 1% claims that closing clinics is a way to expand mental health services by throwing a few crumbs to private clinics. He has ignored our cries about the importance of the trust built through years with our therapists. He has ignored our cries about the importance of having safe spaces like these clinics in our communities. He has ignored our cries about his plan’s complete elimination of all black male therapists. He has ignored our cries about his plan’s 50% reduction in the number of Spanish-speaking therapists. He has ignored our cries about the 18 people who have already been hospitalized due to stress surrounding the clinic closures and loss of therapists. He has ignored our cries about the difficulty of finding care in the private sector given prohibitive co-pays, Medicaid cuts, and a steady decline in mental health funding for all providers. He has ignored our cries that a small fraction of the hundreds of millions in tax breaks he got for his campaign donors at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange could save our clinics. He has ignored our cries that Cook County Jail is the largest provider of mental health care in the state of Illinois. He has ignored our cries that closing clinics when the need for mental health services is growing, destabilizes communities and makes the wars on Chicago’s streets even worse. He only spoke personally about the clinic closures after representatives of the Nobel Summit visited our clinic occupation and denounced his plans. But he spoke of bus passes and his words were just another reminder that he has ignored our cries.
But we know that one man cannot hold back the power of a people’s movement. We know that with our struggle we create space to talk about the trauma and mental illness that is too often buried under mountains of silence and pain. We know when Occupy Wall Street and others stand with us it will help amplify our cry around the world: HEALTHCARE NOT WARFARE!
Mental Health Movement
LOGISTICS FOR JOINING US IN THE FIGHT FOR HEALTHCARE NOT WARFARE: Show up at 2354 N. Milwaukee or 6337 S. Woodlawn when you get to town, whenever you come we will be there. Email us at MentalHealthMovement@gmail.com or call (773) 340-9598 if you need help with directions.