Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Four Activists Were Arrested at Sit-In at St. Vincent's Hospital

This morning, NYPD arrested four activists, who protested the closing of St. Vincent's Hospital. Politicians, on whose watch the hospital closed, remain at-large.

Watch a YouTube video of the protesters, as they were taken into police custody. While they were being put into the back of the police van, the activists shouted : "Land-lock St. Vincents ; Trauma 1 now !"

A group called Hands Off St. Vincent's held a sit-in Tuesday morning at the shuttered medical center. At approximately 10:30 a.m., four activists were arrested. It is not known how many other activists took part at the demonstration.

Among the protesters, who were arrested, were LGBT civil rights activists Iana Di Bona and Alan Bounville. Following is the statement from a press release, which was distributed to the media, by one of the group's members :

New York, NY – On February 8, at 10:30 am, four former patients and impassioned community members entered the building at the location of the closed down Saint Vincent's Hospital. These activists then sat on the ground, unfurling a banner that read, "Guilty : Neglect !" and began to chant - refusing to move. Saint Vincent's personnel closed off that section of the building - currently operating as a Credit Union - and refused entry to members of the credit union as well as persons employed within the building. Two hours after their arrival, the four activists were arrested and taken away by the police.

For 284 days, 1.3 million New Yorkers have been without a hospital in the West Village. Since St. Vincent’s illegal closure on April 30, 2010, the community has been laden with false promises, patronized with a bogus needs assessment and forced, with tragic consequences, to seek emergency or medical care at already overcrowded uptown or East-side hospitals.

“Everyday that passes is critical,” said Iana Di Bona, one of the arrested activists, “Our elected officials have the ability to turn things around, yet they do nothing. It is so important to speak out and to continue to pressure and hold them accountable to service the needs of our community.”

Commitment for a New Village Hospital by the people of the West Village and all of New York City has not wavered. Any politician not actively working to get a new hospital is a target. That is a promise the St. Vincent’s Hospital Community Activists intend to keep.

Before the sit-in took place, it appears that the activists held a "peoples trial" of politicians, on whose watch St. Vincent's closed. According to the description of the YouTube video, an unidentified Hands Off member made the following statement : "We hold the elected officials responsible for betraying their very own constituency."

On her blog, the artist and political commentator Suzannah B. Troy broke the news of the activists getting arrested at St. Vincent's. Ms. Troy made the observation that Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn recently pushed through a new smoking ban in public parks as a sign of their concern for public health, but Ms. Troy questions their commitment if politicians have made no commitment to save city hospitals from closing.

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