Photo montage of Rahm at Wicker Park incident: Kenzo Shibata.
– By Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle as posted on the Mental Health Movement’s Facebook page.
Mental Health Movement members Debbie Delgado and Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle just confronted Rahm face-to-face about his mental health clinic closures. Rahm was about to address a small room of developers and residents at the Wicker Park field-house. 3 years after he closed half of Chicago’s public mental health clinics, he may have thought the issue had gone away. But then Debbie, sitting in the front row, a few feet from the mayor, stood up to tell her story. She told of losing her son to gun violence.
She told him how her other son was holding him as he died. She told about how the city’s Northwest Mental Health Clinic in Logan Square saved their lives, helped her and her son deal with the PTSD and depression.
Then she asked why he took that clinic away from her. Why he closed a clinic and now a bar sits in that space. Why he closed five other mental health clinics. Why he thought she would be able to travel an extra hour past three cemeteries to get to the clinic she was supposed to be transferred to without having an anxiety attack on the way. Why he has left her with no options. Why he has left her with her son closed in, barely leaving the house anymore, refusing to see a new therapist since Rahm Emanuel took away their clinic.
After trying to keep his cool, he told us that he would speak to us after the event in a separate room. There, we saw the Real Rahm.
Now off camera, Rahm’s voice raised, his demeanor changed, in no time he was shouting in Matt’s face, nose-to-nose “YOU’RE GONNA RESPECT ME!”
He corrected Rahm’s faulty statistics, saying that no, psychiatric services were not expanded, that in fact the city cut $2.3 million by closing 6 clinics and only redistributed $500,000 of that to private clinics and that those clinics have only seen a couple hundred additional people, whereas 3,000 people are unaccounted for since he announced the closure of those mental health clinics.
The Real Rahm accused Debbie and Matt of “creating a circus in there,” to which we responded that two close friends – Mental Health Movement heros Jeannette Hanson and Helen Morley – had lost their lives because of his decision to close their clinics, that there is nothing humorous to us about what we did in there, that we had tried since months before the clinic closures to meet with him, that Helen (who was looking at Rahm from Debbie’s t-shirt) had shouted to him “If you close my clinic I will die” only to die a month after he ignored those shouts.
When Rahm told Debbie he is going to have the new Commissioner of Public Health personally find her a new mental health clinic to go to, she said “this isn’t about me, this is about all of us, about the movement, about the south and west sides of the city that don’t have mental health now. Don’t try to just fix my situation, re-open all of our clinics.”
He had his PR guy take our number and left, unable to respond. This is the Real Rahm. Calm and collected in public, raging angry and self-defensive behind closed doors.
The only people in the room were two PR staff, two body guards, us and the man that closed half of Chicago’s public mental health clinics – Rahm Emanuel.