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Protesters Stage Sit-In Of Woodlawn Mental Health Clinic

By aaroncynic in News on Apr 13, 2012 3:40PM

Last night dozens of people locked themselves inside the Woodlawn Mental Health clinic to protest its closure. The clinic, located on the city’s south side, is one of six planned to be shut down due to budget cuts. Around 4 p.m., protesters, including patients, doctors and members of the Mental Health Movement and Occupy Chicago fashioned a barricade out of fencing, chairs, cement and chains while nearly 200 people gathered outside in support.

After a tense standoff for a few hours, police began to cut through the barricade and started making arrests around 1 a.m. In total, 23 people were arrested. About half were released without charge. Sophia Kortchna of the Mental Health Movement told CBS2, “Many of those people who are the most vulnerable people, who have been occupying this clinic tonight in the last stand to try and save what is ours, and have gotten nowhere in City Council; nowhere with our calls to aldermen.”

The Department of Public Health says they’ve invested $500,000 so more people in need can access psychiatric care. In a statement, Dr. Bechara Choucair said “All who depend on the city for services will continue to have access to quality care and, with these reforms, the city is expanding access to mental health services and increasing support for the uninsured.” Activists however, have pointed out that the closures will further cripple an already wounded mental health care system. When a neighborhood clinic closes, patients need to travel for care and workers in the field end up with larger caseloads.

A press conference at the clinic is scheduled for 10 a.m.