Nurses protest at City Hall, Emanuel continues to refuse to allow Grant Park protests, camping after 11 p.m.

Nurses joined others from "Occupy Chicago" in a morning protest outside and inside Chicago's City Hall on October 24, 2011. The protest, which was widely reported, came about after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel ordered Chicago police to arrest protesters who were in Grant Park on the night of October 22. Among those arrested were nurses who had set up a First Aid tent in the park. The nurses were arrested and held longer than most of the 130 people who had been arrested, the second time in two weeks that Emanuel had ordered mass arrests in the famous park that goes from Michigan Ave. to Lake Michigan and which has been the site of numerous protests, most notably the protests against the War in Vietnam during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.


promised, a group of nurses joined Occupy Chicago protesters outside of City Hall Monday to speak out against Saturday night's arrests in Grant Park.

Nurses who set up a first aid station near the park were among the 130 people arrested late Saturday into early Sunday, and some were held in Central District lockup for more than 20 hours.

“We were among the last protesters released, for no good reason that we can tell, except for they clearly knew when the media cameras had left,” Jan Rodolfo, Midwest director for National Nurses United told the Chicago Tribune. “We were tearful and exhausted and shell shocked.”

Dozens of nurses and other protesters showed up at City Hall about 10 a.m. Monday, where there was a confrontation between Mayor Rahm Emanuel's First Deputy Chief of Staff Felicia Davis.

Progress Illinois reports:

In the build up to the confrontation Davis tried to speak to a single person out of a group of approximately 150, believing they should all be able to hear. Davis blamed Occupy Chicago for weeks of cancelled meetings and said she was not in a position to do anything about the arrests.

“It’s very difficult to negotiate when the faces keep changing,” said Davis. “I’m willing to sit down and have an open and respectful dialogue. I just need to know who the the real, appropriate, valid people are to have that happen.”

After petitioning Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office last week, asking if he would grant Occupy Chicago a permit to assemble in Grant Park, more than 1,000 people showed up in the park Saturday night hoping for a sleep over. Instead, as was the case last week, protesters were arrested and charged with disturbing the peace.

"There's a balancing act," Emanuel said of the arrests Monday, according to NBC Chicago. "People have their first amendment right. It's protected and they're expressing their views. And I've expressed my understanding of those economic hardships while making sure the law is enforced."

Emanuel said he does not intend to drop charges against the protesters.

Some nurses and other activists were in jail until after 1 a.m. Monday. On their Twitter page, Occupy Chicago organizers complained of harsh treatment while in police custody. Some arrestees claim that they were unable to make their one phone call for more than 16 hours. Others said 30 men were left in a holding room with no toilet paper.

“I’m completed insulted by the way we were treated,” Rodolfo told Progress Illinois. “Nurses would never treat patients the way we were treated last night in the jail. I believe there was a great deal of effort in the taunting, in general, to make it as punitive as possible, [like] he fact they were handing out mattresses on mainstream arrests, but our mattresses were confiscated. We were told a different set of rules applied us. We were told if we were uncomfortable we should have thought about that before we stayed in Grant Park.”

Protesters told the Tribune Monday that free speech should not end at 11 p.m., and that the mayor should allow them to peacefully demonstrate without fear of arrest. Though news coverage has heavily focused on the Grant Park arrests in recent days, Occupy organizers want to make sure their message is not lost.

"Whether or not you agree with the arrests, the members of Occupy Chicago and National Nurses Union who were arrested Saturday night spent more time in jail for peaceably sitting in a park than any of the Wall Street criminals who ruined our economy, foreclosed the homes of thousands, and who continue to control our government through excessive corporate abuses," Occupy Chicago wrote on its Facebook page Monday.


By Erin Meyer

Tribune reporter

7:39 a.m. CDT, October 24, 2011

Outraged by the arrest of two nurses and a union organizer volunteering at the Occupy Chicago protest over the weekend, National Nurses United is planning a protest at Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office today.

The group, the nation's largest union of registered nurses, is calling on its membership in Chicago to picket City Hall this morning to demand that misdemeanor trespassing charges against the nurses and all of the protesters be dropped.

The two nurses arrested were among a larger group marching with Occupy Chicago protesters and later set up a tent to provide first aid.

"It was the wrong move," RoseAnn DeMoro, the group's executive director, said Sunday. "We were there to make sure if the occupiers get harmed, they have first aid."

DeMoro said the nurses' arrest will only serve to strengthen her organization's commitment to the Occupy movement.

"The nurses are angry, and it's made us double our resolve," she said.

DeMoro said nurse volunteers have set up tents at Occupy protests in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York without any arrests.

Occupy Chicago protesters, angered by what they characterized as harsh treatment by police, voted late Sunday to join the nurses' demonstration.

By 8:30 p.m. Sunday, police said almost all of the 130 people arrested the night before had been released on bail, but some remained in custody.

Police confirmed that several of the protesters arrested Saturday night were also charged in the first round of Occupy Chicago arrests last weekend. Those people are being held on bail violations, Officer Daniel O'Brien said.

It's likely that the protesters arrested for a second time will remain in jail until they go before a judge at a bond hearing, police said.

The legal stakes were higher for those who stood their ground Saturday than for the first 175 people arrested, who were given a court date and quickly released.

"I don't think a lot of people were ready for what happened," said Keith Moens, an out-of-work Chicago Public Schools teacher. "It was scary."

The protesters spent several hours in four large holding cells at the police station before being fingerprinted, photographed and booked into jail, Moens said. There they waited while police ran background checks, he said.

"I didn't intend to get arrested," said Moens, 60, of Arlington Heights. "I got caught up in the moment with all of these kids."

Moens said had he known what was in store for him, he would have left the park to avoid arrest.

A small contingent of Occupy Chicago organizers gathered outside the police station where the protesters were being held Sunday afternoon. They cheered as protesters trickled out of the jail.

"This is an attack on the core of what it means to be an American citizen," said protester Patrick Robinson, 24. "We condemn (Emanuel's) gross violation of the human rights of those arrested."

On Sunday evening, Chicago police issued a statement defending its handling of the protest.

"The Chicago Police Department works diligently to safeguard the constitutional rights of all persons. Members of the Chicago Police Department uphold the highest standards of police conduct, and this extends toward individuals in the exercise of their First Amendment rights," the statement said.

Humboldt Park resident Kate Palmer said she is not deterred by her night in jail.

"I am proud of what we're doing, and I would do it again," said Palmer, adding that she believes police are dealing with protesters more harshly to discourage others. "There will be more arrests."


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