A group of about 50 protesters who want a trauma center at the University of Chicago Medical Center chained themselves together and caused northbound Michigan Avenue to be shut down during the height of rush hour Thursday night.
Members of a group called the Trauma Care Coalition gathered outside of the Water Tower on the city's Near North Side and banded together before 6 p.m., causing police officials to block rush hour traffic outside of the Ritz-Carlton hotel, where the University of Chicago was holding a fundraiser.
Members of the coalition said in a release they were willing to risk arrest to send the message that "business as usual cannot continue while black lives are being lost due to a lack of adult trauma care on the South Side and the University of Chicago’s refusal to expand trauma care."
Two men and seven women -- ages 19 to 21 -- were arrested and released by early Friday morning.
The protesters aimed to rally and picket outside of the hotel in an effort to call on alumni donors not to support the university until it commits to opening a trauma center, a spokesperson for the group said.
The group of people blocking traffic on Michigan Avenue were taken into custody by 6:45 p.m. and traffic began moving again, while another smaller group of protestors gathered outside of the hotel.
The University of Chicago is among four sites with bids competing for President Barack Obama's Presidential Library and Museum. Residents who live near the university have long contended that a trauma center is more important to the community than the Obama project.