Activists Set Up New Encampment At Clinic In Woodlawn

By aaroncynic in News on Apr 16, 2012 3:20PM

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After nearly two dozen protesters were arrested for barricading themselves inside a mental health clinic on the city's South side Thursday night to protest its impending closure, activists returned over the weekend and set up an encampment outside to continue their fight. About a dozen tents went up outside the Woodlawn Mental Health Clinic after activists held a rally and previously planned health fair across the street. Chicago police initially responded to the situation and threatened to make more arrests, but ultimately, backed away from taking any action.

Chris Bufford, a nearby resident and member of the Mental Health Movement, organizers of the protest, said they want the city to amend the budget to keep the neighborhood clinics slated for closure open, and reopen the ones that have already been closed. “This is just another resource that’s being stripped away from our community,” Bufford said. The clinic is scheduled to close on April 30.

The city says the closures will allow mental health services to expand, but consumers and activists both argue closing clinics like the one in Woodlawn would make it more difficult for those in need to access care. A consumer named Percy told the Huffington Post last week “When clinics are privatized, they push you out. They give you a little something and push you out. They don't do that here (at Woodlawn).” In a press release, N'Dana Carter, spokeswoman for the Mental Health Movement said “We have at least two testimonies of patients currently in psychiatric hospitalization because they entered into crisis after the Northwest Clinic was closed.”

Bufford said the mood at the encampment has been positive and activists have received support from the community. During the day an average of 50 people have been outside, and nearly two dozen have stayed the past two nights. While supplies such as food, water and other camping gear has made its way to them, they could always use more.

The Mental Health Movement will hold a press conference tomorrow at 10:00am in front of the Chicago Department of Public Health.