Youth leaders from STOP move forward their campaign to build a trauma center in Chicago’s Southside

STOP news article

Youth leaders from Southside Together Organizing for Power (STOP), a grantee from the Foundation’s Chicago Cohort, have been recognized for their efforts to reopen a trauma center in the Southside neighborhood of Chicago. CNN reports:

“…The university [of Chicago] is vying to place and pay for President Obama’s presidential library, with a projected cost approaching half a billion dollars. (The deadline for bids is June 16; Honolulu, where Obama grew up, and New York are also expected to make pitches.) And this has presented Obama with a political—and arguably moral—bind that his former community-activist self might have taken on quite differently.

Some context: Emmanuel, Obama’s friend and former White House chief of staff, is despised by the black community in this town. And at least six shootings happened within blocks of Obama’s Hyde Park home this past weekend alone, a situation crying out for solutions and funds to pay for them.

Just to the west of East 61st and South Cottage Grove, the residents want the university to build a trauma center to help save the lives of the people living in the high crime/low income neighborhoods that surround it. Currently the university’s renowned hospital is unable to treat adults injured in falls, car accidents and assaults, though it does operate a trauma center for children 16 and under. It had a trauma care unit in 1986 but closed it two years later because of annual losses of $2 million—a combination of high volume, patients without insurance and insufficient public aid.

This mattered, for example, to an 18-year-old youth activist by the name of Damian Turner, who in 2010 was caught in the crossfire of a drive-by shooting just four blocks from the school’s hospital, but had to be driven 10 miles to be treated. He died en route.

In 2013, Northwestern University studied gunshot wounds recorded by the Illinois State Trauma Registry from 1999 to 2009 and found that living more than five miles from a trauma center decreases chances of survival. Adults living on the city’s predominantly black south side do not live within five miles of such a center. That’s a problem….

This week a local organization, STOP, Southside Together Organizing for Power, is holding a series of peaceful protests on and around the university campus to oppose putting the library there and to raise attention for the need for a trauma center. Their demonstrations started with a sit-in on the construction site for a parking ramp near the school’s new Discovery center. Video shows it ended with protesters being dragged off the premises by university police for trespassing, with some protesters injured in the process.

“The University of Chicago upholds the right to peaceful and safe demonstrations, but cannot allow protests that jeopardize anyone’s safety,” a statement read, adding it has established locations for demonstrations. “No arrests were made, and no charges have been planned.”

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