Mental health protesters found guilty of criminal trespass

October 15, 2012

Scott Kanowsky

A Cook County judge found four protesters who took part in an April sit-in at a South Side mental health clinic guilty of criminal trespass Monday.

Demonstrators say the April 12 sit-in was against the potential closure of some Chicago clinics by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. 

“We gave the Mayor four thousand letters from constituents and people that had visited this city saying these clinics need to be kept open, so we will feel safer when we come in this city. He didn’t care,” said N'Dana Carter, one of the protesters and a spokesperson for the "Mental Health Movement."

The Mayor's office did return repeated requests for comment on Monday.

Police officials testified that demonstrators barricaded themselves in the Woodlawn Mental Health clinic with everything from cement-filled trash cans to vending machines and refused to leave. Officials said SWAT team members equipped with power tools had to eventually be called in to demolish the barriers.

In all, 23 protesters were arrested—although, according to the protesters' attorney, not all were charged and some arranged other settlements.

Cook County judge Peggy Chiampas sentenced all four demonstrators (who had previously pled not guilty to criminal trespass charges) to fines and penalties of varying lengths.

In her ruling, Judge Chiampas said the demonstrators' actions were not the appropriate "way to have a discussion" about mental health issues.