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Four arrested in trauma center protest

Students and community members protested the UCMC's lack of an adult trauma care center yesterday afternoon. Witnesses said the peaceful sit-in quickly turned violent when UCPD arrived.

Four protesters were arrested by UCPD officers at the new hospital near East 57th Street and South Maryland Avenue yesterday afternoon. The demonstration was in protest of the lack of an adult trauma care facility at the University of Chicago Medical Center in light of the $700 million spent by the University on the Center for Care and Discovery.

Protesters from South Side organization Southsiders Together for Organizing Power (STOP) and their youth group affiliate, Fearless Leading the Youth (FLY), organized the sit-in at the new hospital building, set to open February 23. The sit-in was also attended by members of the group Students for Health Equity, which is comprised of students from the College. A small group of the protesters were prepared to be arrested during the occupation of the hospital property, according to Darius Lightfoot, co-founder of FLY. Two of the arrested protesters, Alex Goldenberg (A.B. ’06), the director of STOP, and a 17-year-old high school student, were part of this group.

According to Duff Morton, a seventh-year graduate student in the anthropology department, the situation became violent within a few minutes of the declaration of the protesters’ peaceful intentions.

Those arrested were Toussaint Losier, an eighth-year graduate student in the history department, a student at King College Prep High School, Goldenberg, and Jacob Klippenstein, a cameraman.

“The rest of us were in the lobby supporting, and two University of Chicago Police Department SUVs zipped up with sirens blaring, and as soon as they came in they started pulling people to the ground and hitting Toussaint [Losier] in particular and the cameraman [Klippenstein],” Morton said. “Once they got him [Toussaint] on the ground they just kept hitting him. It was really really shocking.”

Jesus Campuzano, who works with STOP, confirmed the situation. He said he saw one UCPD officer point to Losier as a target and, with the aid of two other officers, beat and pull Losier to the ground. Campuzano said Losier did not resist.

Losier, Goldenberg, Klippenstein, and the high school student are being held at a Chicago Police Department (CPD) station on West 51st Street and South Wentworth Avenue, and have been since roughly 3:45 p.m. yesterday afternoon. According to their lawyer, Ben Meyer, they are being held without charges and were delayed counsel by UCPD from about 8 p.m., when Meyer first sought to speak with the defendants, until midnight. Meyer said that CPD is waiting for UCPD to process the charges so they can move forward. UCPD informed Meyer that the high school student will be released upon completion of processing. It is not known when Losier, Goldenberg, or Klippenstein will be released.

– Additional Reporting by Ankit Jain

  • undergrad

    This is classic. The Uchicago hospital is already doing a service to the community, but instead of being thankful people feel they are entitled to more. They march into a private hospital with the intent to create commotion (one person had a bullhorn); an extremely selfish move because they could have disturbed the important workings of the hospital. Several of the protestors even planned to get arrested, and all planned to stay until they got kicked out.

    Then, when they do get kicked out and some are arrested, they claim it was a “peaceful” protest and start “stop the violence” petitions. Hypocracy at its finest. Some people just like to make trouble.

  • Alex

    Please. It’s your comment that’s classic, a classic reflection of elite entitlement. The hospital is part of the university, and many people protesting are part of the university community. Students and faculty deserve to be able to voice their dissent in public, and not just in classrooms. The point of protest is disruption, an attempt to disrupt business as usual. And you having to experience (non-violent) disruption and commotion is part of what it means to live in a democracy and participate as part of a democratic university community. I’m sorry that a bullhorn drowned out the music from your headphones, but my sense is that you’ll continue to live in your privileged bubble just fine.

    No one is going to die at the hospital because someone has a bullhorn, the “important workings” of the hospital are not harmed — the only thing being damaged here is the university’s reputation. Do you think people protesting the lack of an emergency trauma center are going to chain the doors to block ambulances’ or doctors’ paths?!

    Damian Turner died, quite possibly because there was no trauma center at the University. It takes an astonishing degree of smugness to label his friends, his mother, and sympathetic supporters who are trying to keep his memory alive as “people who just like to make trouble.”

    • undergrad

      The hospital is actually not “public” but private property. While the protestors do have the right to protest in public, they do not have the right to do so on private property. Furthermore, the UCMC, again, as a private institution, actually does not have to allow any sort of democratic process at all in its decision making.

      Disruption and commotion may be part of living in a democracy, but part of living in any civilized society is basic law being enforced. YOU must accept that as part of any society you cannot take such actions without being arrested.

      What happened to Damian Turner is sad, but it is not the fault of the University of Chicago. The UCMC is a private institution that does not have to exist at all. Why not protest Chicago State, Illinois tech, or UIC for letting down the Turner family? The obvious answer, because it was not their job to operate a trauma center. People only protest the University of Chicago because in the past they have gone above and beyond the call of civic duty and offered emergency medical service to the community. After many years of this service, and still continuing to be, as “physician” said, “the second largest provider of health services to uninsured patients in Illinois”, the University should receive nothing but thanks and gratitude. Instead, people have become so used to a gift they believe they are entitled to it, and decide to be disruptive when it can no longer be offered. That is oddly like the behaviour of a three year old when her lollipop is taken away, and should make anyone sick.

    • be balanced

      The situation with Damian Turner was sad, but you cannot blame it on the hospital or the university.

      On the necessity of a trauma center on our campus, you are relying not on facts but on some sort of (apparently untested) intuition.

      Consider some peer-reviewed research on the relevant issues.

      1. On the question of median transport time (11 minutes for the North Side vs. 15 mins for the South Side) and association with mortality, there is no relationship:
      (Newgard CD, et al, Ann Emerg Med. 2010 Mar;55(3):235-246.e4.

      2. On whether medicaid loads and uninsured populations are risk factors for higher rate of trauma center closures, again the answer is no. (Shen et al, Med Care. 2009 Sep;47(9):968-78,

      3. On geographic access to trauma center in the US, which areas are really in need? (Branas CC, et al, Journal of the American Medical Association 2005,

      The number of hospital closings on the South Side of Chicago over the years is alarming: You, with your lack of grasp of the facts, cannot dictate how the hospital should spend its resources given these realities.

      The hospital cannot raise the age limit of its level 1 pediatric trauma care. This is in accordance with the Trauma Center Code of the Illinois Department of Public Health. The guidelines are based on longstanding medical opinion on a pediatric protocol by specially trained doctors.

    • Jelly Roll Boutte

      People thinking they’re entitled to their own lives? Imagine that.

  • Physician

    While I acknowledge a need for trauma center on the South Side of Chicago, I agree with ‘Undergrad’ here. There are patients near where the protest took place. I support what UCPD did in this case.

    Most importantly, I would just like to note that UCMC is already the second largest provider of health services to uninsured patients in Illinois, only behind Cook County.

    • platosgrave

      Actually, the university receives millions of dollars in government grants every year as well as a tax exempt status worth millions more. It may be a private institution but it has public responsibilities, responsibilities which are being shirked in our surrounding community.

      • be balanced

        You are perpetuating a lie.

        Gunshot trauma injuries are just one of many health disparities on the South Side.

        Through the research and community clinical care efforts of members of our faculty and the Urban Health Initiative, the University is addressing many of the disparities in our surrounding neighborhoods — diabetes, breast cancer, HIV infection rate and basic lack of access to medical care.

        Last year, the University of Chicago Medicine spent $237 million — 21 percent of operating revenues — on charity care, uncompensated care, and unreimbursed funding of education and research.

        The hospital is entitled to make its choices on the best way to spend its resources on patient care.

  • Undergrad 2

    I know little to nothing about the issue, so take my comment for that worth. But I do understand that it is extremely expensive to operate an emergency trauma center, and I can’t see why the UCMC should operate one if it doesn’t make sense financially. Sure, there’s the moral issue here, but the cost of operating a trauma center will likely use allocated funds from other services UCMC offers, decreasing care and availability for patients receiving those treatments.

    Alex, what you’re saying about noises is quite lamentable. Many patients suffering from various ailments have susceptibility to loud noises, and I’m sure physicians trying to treat patients (or surgeons, but I doubt their work is within earshot of a bullhorn) will be affected by such a protest. Say what you will about doctors, AMA, UCMC, those who can afford care, etc., but I strongly disagree with the interference with medical procedure for such a protest.

    Also, cut the “democracy” argument. Voicing dissent is one thing, but impeding and/or disrupting business is not an acceptable way of doing so. And yes, protesting illegally on private property is impeding/disrupting business. Call that BS? Without such laws, I’m going to go make noise in the Reg with a bullhorn during finals week, and I assume by doing so I will be disrupting the elitist students trying to get an A while people are dying in the streets. The business has as much right to operate without disruption as protestors have by disrupting.

    Lastly, I agree with Undergrad about the perception of the hospital. It truly isn’t the university’s role to provide a trauma center at UCMC. It’s sad that there isn’t one on the South Side despite the need for it, but why should UCMC take upon a burden that it cannot sustain financially? Why are the other hospitals in the area not taking upon that burden, if the demand is so high?

  • K

    I agree that a hospital is a place of healing and not a stage for protest, however important.

    I am also confused why we are outraged that people who were deliberately trying to be arrested got arrested.

  • Sara

    Regardless of whether you think the protesters should have been arrested, it’s beyond disturbing that UCPD used violence against those they took into custody.

    • Be balanced

      You are assuming that there was police misconduct here. You are also assuming that UCPD used violence against those they took into custody.

      One of the police officers sustained an injury from this and had to be taken to the emergency.

      The protesters entered the hospital illegally. If they were merely interested in engaging the public or the hospital, there was no need to do something illegal. NO, they had an agenda that went beyond a civil discussion about the issues.

      What is disturbing is that rather than focusing on the violence in the South Side (for example, by supporting the University of Chicago Crime Lab and its work on gun violence:, the protesters are demanding a trauma center which is not at all justified for the hospitals from the point of view of peer-reviewed research: and