Milwaukee, WI- 100 people protested Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in Milwaukee as he spoke at a $400 dollar-a-plate fundraiser for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s run for governor. Community members drove from Chicago and across Wisconsin for a chance to bring their anger over Rahm Emanuel’s policies to him directly.
Laid off Chicago nurse Timothy Hudson spoke out against Mayor Emanuel’s privatization attacks on Chicago’s mental health clinics. Also representing the Chicago Mental Health Movement was Diane Adams, a patient of Auburn-Gresham Mental Health Center on the Southside of Chicago, one of the six mental health clinics scheduled to be closed by Emanuel’s administration on April 30. Members of dozens of community groups planning to protest the NATO convention in May joined the protest to demand Emanuel fund healthcare, not a crackdown on civil liberties during the NATO convention.
Many Wisconsinites at the protest were also protesting Barrett’s anticipated run for governor. Like Emanuel, Barrett has stood with the 1% business owners in Milwaukee to privatize community infrastructure. Barrett is extremely unpopular amongst progressive voters for crushing the Paid Sick Days ordinance that passed by voter referendum with a 69% majority. Since Governor Scott Walker destroyed collective bargaining for public employees, Barrett has done nothing but continue the attack on public workers, using Walker’s legislation to his advantage.
While Rahm Emanuel is closing and privatizing schools and health clinics, he is simultaneously handing out millions without oversight to his corporate sponsors, such as Motorola, in anticipation of the NATO Summit in Chicago on May 20. Emanuel’s administration has spent nearly $1 million on face shields alone for riot police, yet he denies the city has enough police to allow The Coalition Against NATO/G8 a permit to protest on May 20.
For over two 2 hours, protesters marched outside the high-dollar fundraiser, forcing Emanuel and Barrett’s corporate sponsors to drive through the protest into the event. Members of Occupy Milwaukee, Occupy Fon du Lac and the Milwaukee Coalition to Protest NATO held a large banner that read “Money for healthcare not warfare!”
Trying to take their message directly to Rahm Emanuel, the entire protest caught police by surprise when they rushed onto the property of the private club. Police wielding batons demanded that the protesters immediately leave the private property. Led by the Chicago organization Southside Together Organizing for Power (STOP), protesters refused to back down and advanced further toward the police line. An intense standoff occurred between protesters and police for nearly a half hour. Protesters demanded police send out a representative of Emanuel’s office, but they refused.
Diane Adams from the Chicago Mental Health Movement appealed to the police by telling them how mental health clinics had helped her personally, adding, “If you police keep on dealing with us like this you will need those resources someday too, and they won’t be there.”
After police gave the final warning for protesters to leave the property, Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle of STOP called out the police for protecting the 1%, saying, “We’re giving you your final warning! This is your last chance to protect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and stand with the 99%!” After the standoff, protestors vowed to return and have further plans in the works to confront Rahm Emanuel wherever he goes.
Organizers from the Coalition Against NATO/G8 in Chicago continue to fight Emanuel’s attacks on civil liberties and plan to hold a mass march on the opening day of the NATO war makers’ convention in Chicago on May 20.
Other sponsors of the protest included Occupy the Hood-Milwaukee, Occupy the Hood-Chicago, Occupy Chicago, Occupy Riverwest, Milwaukee Students for a Democratic Society, Peace Action Wisconsin, Progressive Democrats of America, Wisconsin Bail Out the People Movement, The Milwaukee Graduate Assistants Association and the International Action Center.