Last night acting on orders from Mayor Emanuel, anxious to show his Wall Street buddies what side he's on, the Chicago police cleared protesters from Grant Park.
Some of the Occupiers acquiesced and went. Others stayed and were arrested. Among those who felt they could not leave were a small band of nurses from the local branch of National Nurses United who had set up a first aid tent to help meet the health needs of the protesters.
Throughout history, nurses have gone where we were needed - plagues, disasters, wars, there have been nurses there. When the Occupy events began, we knew where we belonged. Nurse members of NNU are at several of the larger occupy events, providing basic first aid, health advice and moral support to the protesters.
Here's an excerpt from the Chicago Tribune:
Initial police estimates put the crowd who went to Grant Park earlier in the evening to attempt to set up camp at around 1,500, but it had swelled by the time the marchers arrived at Congress Plaza at Michigan Avenue and Congress Parkway after a march from Federal Plaza in the Loop.
As the 11 p.m. park closing approached, a few hundred people decided to stay in Congress Plaza in Grant as several hundred more moved onto a nearby sidewalk or across Michigan Avenue, off Park District property. Police announced several times that anyone still in the park would be arrested, and by midnight, about 100 people remained in the plaza, which had been cordoned off with police barricades.
The plaza was cleared by about 2:40 a.m., with about 100 people arrested, and a few hundred remaining on sidewalks on the east and west sides of Michigan Avenue. Those taken into custody were taken away in police vans and Sheriff's Department buses for booking at police district stations.
As the last few protesters remained waiting to be arrested, in a very moving scene they surrounded the medical tent while the nurses stood inside. The police waited until all the other protesters had been taken away before arresting the nurses in the tent. As of the last word I have, they have not yet been released.
From an NNU press release:
NNU is asking supporters to call Mayor Emmanuel’s office at 312-744-5000 and demand they immediately drop all charges against the nurses and other protesters, and stop the harassment and arrests of the nurses and others peacefully exercising their free speech rights. Nurses will also picket the mayor’s office at 10 a.m. Monday morning, at City Hall at the LaSalle entrance.
Those nurses and the union staff with them are people I know, friends. I'm proud of them and wish I could have been there with them. You might all want to let the Mayor's office know how you feel about this. And, if you are in the Chicago area, come on down to City Hall Monday AM.
Update: OH my. Had to rush out to an engagement and didn't expect much from this, so imagine my surprise on coming home. Apologies for not being here to engage.