January , 2019

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150 Supporters March to UChicago Main Quadrangles for Die-In Protest after Shutting Down Alumni Awards Ceremony

CHICAGO, IL -Trauma Center Now Activists, including members of Fearless Leading by the Youth and University of Chicago students, disrupted UofC President Robert Zimmer’s speech at the Alumni Awards Ceremony at Rockefeller Chapel. They successfully shut down the Awards Ceremony, forcing it to end early.

An alum walking out of the disrupted awards ceremony punched one faith leader, charged at and kicked a current student organizer, and pushed our student videographer’s camera into her face. Activists were forced to block traffic to stop the alum from fleeing the scene and to ensure that he was arrested.

The arrested alum is Russ Zajtchuk, who graduated from the College in 1960 and from the Medical School in 1963. He has occupied the position of President of the Medical & Biological Sciences Alumni Association.

Student activist Sydelle Keisler remarked, “I am horrified that the simple demand for a trauma center to save black lives on the south side would provoke such extreme and unwarranted violence from an alum who is so highly esteemed by the university. It’s obvious to me whose lives matter to the University.”

The die-in is the climax of the Trauma Care Coalition’s week of actions coinciding with the UofC’s Alumni Weekend celebrations, which marks a high point of fundraising. This year’s alumni weekend also coincides with the UofC’s $4.5-billion capital campaign.

“The University of Chicago has shown that they do not not care about black lives,” says Veronica Morris-Moore, a Woodlawn resident and youth organizer with the trauma center campaign. “We want to make sure alumni know where their donation dollars are going, and we want to say we can’t live with [UofC President] Robert Zimmer’s definition of ‘business as usual’ any more. University of Chicago needs to open a trauma center now.” Morris-Moore has been arrested for civil disobedience at past trauma center protests.
Organizers are demanding that:

The community’s demand for trauma care was sparked by the death of Woodlawn youth leader Damian Turner, and is led by the Woodlawn-based Fearless Leading by the Youth, along with the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization, Students for Health Equity at the UofC, National Nurses United and many faith groups including the United Church of Christ.

The South Side is currently a trauma desert for adults, meaning that victims of shootings and other serious injuries must be taken over ten miles away, to the Near North Side or south west suburbs. The call for trauma care is also supported by a new study by the Illinois Department of Public Health which states that longer travel times to a trauma center increases the likelihood of dying, the study also states that the U of C is best positioned to expand access to trauma care, and that the U of C could further raise the age limit of their pediatric trauma center.

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