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Nurses protest outside Emanuel’s office over Occupy Chicago arrests

Chicago Tribune, 10/24/11

By Kristen Mack
Tribune reporter

October 24, 2011

More than two dozen people in red shirts affiliated with National Nurses United stood outside Mayor Rahm Emanuel's fifth floor City Hall office this morning chanting, “Arrest the 1 percent.”

The protest came a day after two nurses with the union were arrested in Grant Park for refusing to leave after the park’s 11 p.m. closing time. They were among more than 100 people who were arrested early Sunday morning.

Jan Rodolfo, 36, the Midwest director for NNU, said she was arrested at 2:45 a.m. Sunday and charged with an ordinance violation. Another nurse, Martese Chism, and an unspecified number of medics were arrested.

Rodolfo said she was released at 1:15 a.m. this morning, pending a Nov. 15 court appearance.

“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,” Rodolfo said. “We were tearful and exhausted and shell shocked.”

Emanuel said the city has a balancing act.

“I have to enforce the law as well as respect peoples’ 1st Amendment rights,” Emanuel said.

Chism, the other nurse who was arrested, said she and her colleagues were at Grant Park to offer their medical services and moral support.

“We believe that they have a right to assemble and the right to the freedom of speech under the Constitution,” said Chism, a registered nurse at Cook County, who said she spent 23 hours in jail.  “We see our patients suffer from the economic crisis, and we believe the only way to heal America is to address Wall Street.”

Rodolfo said her group is asking Emanuel to “act like mayors across the country” and allow protesters to set up a 24/7 encampment in Chicago without fear of arrest.

“A person and their rights don’t stop at 11 p.m. in the city of Chicago,” Rodolfo said.

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