Small protest descends on Chicago mayor's home

Reuters News
Posted: May 19, 2012 12:48 PM
Small protest descends on Chicago mayor's home

By Mary Wisniewski and Andrew Stern

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A group of around 50 demonstrators descended on the home of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Saturday to protest the recent closure of mental health clinics as part of a series of rallies and marches timed to coincide with a NATO summit here.

The protest on Chicago's north side included some former patients of six city-run mental health clinics that closed at the end of April to save $2.3 million as part of a drive to eliminate the city's $650 million budget deficit.

"He (Emanuel) hasn't talked to us once, not once since he's been in office," said Marti Luckett, 60, a patient at one of the shuttered clinics who is bipolar and suffers from depression. "We want him to show up."

"I think President (Barack) Obama should be calling Rahm Emanuel and say 'shame on you,'" added Luckett, a petite woman with reddish hair.

Small groups of protesters, some carrying signs that read "food not bombs" or "seize the peace," accompanied former patients of the clinics dressed in green hospital smocks going door to door to talk to residents in Emanuel's neighborhood.

At the mayor's home protesters reached were greeted by around 30 police officers who were in a relaxed mood on a warm, sunny day but told protesters to keep moving.

Less than a block from the mayor's home Colette Kelsey, 39, and Doug Anderson, 43, were among the few residents who opened their doors to protesters.

"We can all empathize, but when you have limited funds what can you do?" Kelsey said of the clinic closures.

In a separate development, police investigated a suspicious package that turned out to be an empty suitcase aboard a commuter train on Saturday morning, said Police Department spokeswoman Melissa Stratton. Stratton also said two likely protesters were arrested for trespassing at a downtown museum early on Saturday morning, but did not have additional details.

(Writing By Nick Carey; Editing by Dan Burns and Jackie Frank)