Group Carols to Save Mental Health Clinics

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Protesters who want to avert cuts to the city’s mental health clinics tried a unique tactic this week.

As the City Council convened their first session since voting to close half of the city’s clinics and privatize all of its neighborhood health centers, members of the Mental Health Movement wore Santa Claus hats and formed a circle in the hallway outside the elected officials’ offices at City Hall, then sung altered classic holiday songs.

In their rendition of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Jingle Bells,” and the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” they accused Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other city officials of catering to “corporate greed,” and giving “tax breaks” to the wealthy while closing clinics in poor African American and Hispanic communities “without shame.”

The protestors declared that “On the twelfth day of Christmas, the Mayor took away any chance of re-election, NATO protest permits, any hope of learning, public libraries, 8 public schools, 7 health centers, living wage jobs, all our hopes and dreams, mental health clinics, all our meds, our therapists and public health from the city!”

A member of the Chicago Mental Health Movement directing the Christmas carolers at city hall on December 14, 2011. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte

Members of the Mental Health Movement also urged City Council members “to do what’s right this holiday season,” by holding hearings on clinic closures and delaying the closures pending an impact study. They also urged legislators to meet with people who use the mental health facilities to hear their stories.

Stephanie Torres, a member of the group and a college student, told Residents’ Journal after the protest that Emanuel’s decision to privatize and close the mental health clinics would “be very devastating” to their clientele as well “devastating for the community.”

Stephanie Torres, a member of the Chicago Mental Health Movement, singing altered classic holiday songs in protest of the future closing of six mental health clinics in low-income areas of color, during an event at city hall on December 14, 2011. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte

“It’s just ripple effect, the city as a whole,” Torres said. “And we’re just here to protest that privatization and closing is not the answer,” she said.

Some of the members performed a short skit in the hallway, depicting Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as “The Grinch who stole clinics” instead of Christmas.

The City Council voted to close six of the Chicago Public Health Department’s 12 mental health clinics, all of which are located in low-income communities of color.

One Patient’s Plea
Linda Hatcher, 60, has been a patient for the past 24 years at the mental health clinic targeted for closure in the Woodlawn community. She has suffered a mental breakdown in the past and has been undergoing treatment for “postponed depression and bipolar” health conditions. The Woodlawn clinic is close to her home and on the route of her commute on public transportation, and Hatcher added that she also has a daughter who suffers from bipolar disorder.

Linda Hatcher, a member of the Mental Health Movement and a patient at the Woodlawn Mental Health Clinic, talking to Residents’ Journal reporter about why her clinic should remain open, after the protest at City Hall on December 14, 2011. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte

“I’m a fighter,” Hatcher said after the protest. “I’m not going to give up that easy. By her having bipolar I help her out with my grandbabies and everything, and we need that clinic open. I’m going to fight, and they’re going to keep it open,” she declared.

Hatcher said she has established a good relationship with her therapist at the Woodlawn Mental Health Clinic, which she didn’t want to be disrupted.

“I talk to my therapist for my to put me right back on the right track cause I do fall off sometimes. But by me taking my medicine…it helps keep me together,” she said.

Protestors Altered Holiday Carol Lyrics

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer
Mayor Emanuel’s budget
Wants to make our clinics close
All of the city council
Shrugs and says “that’s how it goes”

All of the Mayor’s buddies
Toast their glasses of champagne
He’s giving them big tax breaks
And closing clinics without shame

Then one cold December night
The people rose to fight
Mayor your budget’s not right
We’ll resist your greed and might!

Then all the people rose up
Fighting against corporate greed
We’re building one big movement
And we’ll go down in history!

Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Have you just a little bit of heart left?
To respect our rights?
If you close our clinics we will rise and fight

Have you just a little bit of heart left?
Don’t we have a say?
If they close, our clinics will be miles away

Here we are as in olden days
With no rights or say at all.
If mental health isn’t near to us
Through the cracks we’ll fall

Through the years you’ve subsidized your rich friends
Like the CME
You’ve got money for all of your rich buddies
So closing clinics is heartless as we all can see!

Jingle Bells
Dashing through the snow
Cause my clinic closed today
Across gang lines I go
Can you hear me say NO NO NO
If our clinics close
Or it you privatize
What will you say to those who know
That we will lose some lives – HEY!

E-man-uel,
E-man-uel
Can’t fool me today!
Corporate greed gets more and more
While our clinics go away, hey!
(2x)

For well over a year
We’ve tried to get your ear
But every time we’ve tried
You just run and hide (SHAME SHAME SHAME)
So your budget passes
To close clinics and schools
While cut your friends’ taxes
You must think we’re fools – HEY!

E-man-uel,
E-man-uel
Can’t fool me today!
Corporate greed gets more and more
While our clinics go away, hey!
(2x)

O Christmas Tree
O can’t you see? O can’t you see?
This Mayor’s budget’s deadly?
O can’t you see? O can’t you see?
He’s closing clinics for you and me
It’s only bankers who he hears,
Mental health clinics disappear.
O Can’t you see, O can’t you see?
We need our clinics to be free!

12 days of Xmax
On the first day of Christmas the Mayor took away, public health from the city.

On the second day of Christmas the Mayor took away, our therapists and public health from the city.

On the third day of Christmas the Mayor took away, all our meds, our therapists, and public health from the city

On the fourth day of Christmas the Mayor took away mental health clinics, all our meds, our therapists and public health from the city.

On the fifth day of Christmas the Mayor took away, all our hopes and dreams, mental health clinics, all our meds, our therapists and public health from the city.

On the sixth day of Christmas the Mayor took away all of our jobs, all our hopes and dreams, mental health clinics, all our meds, our therapists and public health from the city.

On the seventh day of Christmas the Mayor took away 7 health centers, living wage jobs, all our hopes and dreams, mental health clinics, all our meds, our therapists and public health from the city.

On the eighth day of Christmas the Mayor took away 8 public schools, 7 health centers, living wage jobs, all our hopes and dreams, mental health clinics, all our meds, our therapists and public health from the city.

On the ninth day of Christmas the Mayor took away public libraries, 8 public schools, 7 health centers, living wage jobs, all our hopes and dreams, mental health clinics, all our meds, our therapists and public health from the city.

On the tenth day of Christmas the Mayor took away any hope of learning, public libraries, 8 public schools, 7 health centers, living wage jobs, all our hopes and dreams, mental health clinics, all our meds, our therapists and public health from the city.

On the eleventh day of Christmas the Mayor took away NATO protest permits, any hope of learning, public libraries, 8 public schools, 7 health centers, living wage jobs, all our hopes and dreams, mental health clinics, all our meds, our therapists and public health from the city.

On the twelfth day of Christmas the Mayor took away, any chance of re-election, NATO protest permits, any hope of learning, public libraries, 8 public schools, 7 health centers, living wage jobs, all our hopes and dreams, mental health clinics, all our meds, our therapists and public health from the city!

Tags: , , , , ,
Categories: Homepage Uncategorized Video

One Response to “Group Carols to Save Mental Health Clinics”

  1. We Must Save Chicago’s Mental Health Clinics | Says:

    [...] halls, public hearings and press conferences they’ve also organized direct actions such as singing altered Christmas Carols, staging a sit-in outside Mayor Emanuel’s office in City Hall and mic-checking Rahm during a [...]

Welcome, leave a comment: