Prayer Vigil & March for Trauma Center as University of Chicago Preps Obama Library Bid

Letters to Editors

CHICAGO, IL – Clergy and faith leaders from the Trauma Center Coalition will hold a Prayer Vigil and march May 20th to demand the University of Chicago open a trauma center. The Prayer Vigil will start at 5:30pm at University Church, 5655 S. University, the group will then march to 58th St and S. Maryland Ave where Clergy and faith leaders will urge the University to open a trauma center. Faith leaders will attempt to enter the hospital to pray in the hospital chapel.

Johnny Kline, minister for social justice at University Church, says “members of our group who come from a strong faith background started this out as a way to express their prayerful wishes. We have offered our resources, support and endorsement of the campaign for a trauma center.”

The Prayer Vigil comes as the University of Chicago is preparing to submit its bid to host the Obama Presidential Library. Victoria Crider, a high school senior, who goes to school just seven blocks from President Obama’s house, says “we are marching this week because we want the President to know that the University of Chicago should not get the honor and prestige that comes with the Obama Library when they are neglecting the needs of black and brown communities on the South Side.”

Ms. Crider notes that “President Obama has tried to stop gun violence and create opportunities for young black men, meanwhile the University of Chicago sits in the center of a gun violence epidemic on the South Side and has shown that it does not value black life, by refusing to open a trauma center and save the lives of the young black men dying at their door.”

The Prayer Vigil comes a day after 8 young people formed a human chain and blocked cement trucks and stopped construction at the University of Chicago’s new $700M hospital construction site to demand the University Hospital do its part to save the lives of south side youth, before the University submits its bid for the Obama Library. After halting construction for over 3 hours the protesters were brutally dragged away by University Police, one protester was hospitalized due to injuries. See the video here:

The week of action also comes after the University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer, the highest paid University president in the country earning $3.4M per year, last week announced that the University has launched a $4.5 billion dollar capital campaign. Despite this capital campaign and the University of Chicago Hospital’s $782 million dollar endowment, they claim they do not have the resources to open an adult trauma center. Exactly one year ago Kenneth Polonsky Dean of the University of Chicago Hospital said that the University hospital would support a regional solution to the lack of a south side trauma center, however, they have done nothing to make this happen.

The community’s demand for trauma care was sparked by the death of Damian Turner, a youth activist, who was caught by a stray bullet in 2009 four blocks from the U of C but was taken 10 miles away to Northwestern where he died. The call for trauma care is also supported by new research by Dr. Marie Crandall of Northwestern Hospital on “Trauma Deserts” which shows that longer travel times to a trauma center increase your likelihood of dying.

The prayer vigil is part of an entire week of action. National Nurses United will hold a bus tour for trauma care on Wednesday 5/21 starting at 4pm at 59th and Maryland. University of Chicago Doctors advocating for a trauma center will hold a press conference at 12:15pm Thursday 5/22 at 58th and Maryland. A community protest march will take place Friday 5/23 at 4:30pm starting at 61st and Cottage Grove where a King College Prep High School student will deliver a personal letter to President Obama asking him to urge the University to open a trauma center, facebook event page:

The Prayer Vigil and March will include leaders from University Church, Kenwood United Church of Christ, St. Sabina Church, Trinity Church, Lincoln Memorial Church, Good Shepherd Church, and more.

The Week of Action is being organized by the Trauma Center Coalition, which includes of Fearless Leading by the Youth, Students for Health Equity and the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization and allies.

WHO: Clergy and faith leaders from the Trauma Center Coalition.

WHAT: Prayer Vigil and March

WHERE / WHEN: May 20th at 5:30pm at University Church, 5655 S. University, then march to 58th Street and S. Maryland Ave.

VISUAL: Faith leaders hold prayer vigil and march under banner that reads: “Obama Cares, U of C Doesn’t – No Trauma Center, No Library”