Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Score one for the good guys

So I've been getting all activisty recently. (After Obama's election campaign, community organizing became the in thing, so I thought I'd check it out.)

Here's an infuriating thing: a while back the city decided to close down four of the city's mental health clinics--and all the ones slated for closure just happen to be in poor, largely minority neighbourhoods on the southside. Because if you've got a budget problem, the thing you really want to do is take support away from people with mental health problems living in impoverished areas.

There was a whole series of actions on this issue (protests and town-hall meetings), but none of those yielded much success. The mayor's office consistently refused to talk to anyone about the issue. Things were looking pretty grim. But then:
Mayor Richard Daley today issued a temporary reprieve to four South Side mental health clinics slated to close but did not say how long they would stay open.


The clinics were to close as early as Tuesday, but a brief sit-in staged Monday by clinic patients and their advocates led to meetings with Daley Chief of Staff Paul Volpe and the subsequent mayoral reprieve.
The sit-in involved a half-dozen people dressed in suits, walking into the office at different times with various legitimate-sounding inquiries--and then refusing to leave. That was the core group, ready to be arrested if it came to that. They were backed up by a much larger group of protesters outside of the office. And also a bunch of cameras from local news outlets. Beautiful.

Alas, I didn't actually make it out to that last rally. (Naturally I now feel terrible about that--not only would it have been a good thing to participate in, but it would have been a big rush, too.) And the lack of a full commitment to keeping the clinics open is worrisome. But, all that said, it still feels pretty damn good.

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