Obama Library: Hyde Park Group Protests University of Chicago's Bid

Residents are calling for U. of C. to build an adult trauma center instead

The University of Chicago is facing community opposition in its battle to claim Barack Obama's presidential library.

On Thursday the Hyde Park group Trauma Care Coalition will stage a town hall and rally at the University Church near campus as part of an ongoing protest to build an adult Level 1 trauma center on the city's South Side. The message: If the college aims to host the much-coveted, hotly debated library, then it should also make room for the trauma clinic. (Some people think the president would support that pitch.)

The university "has long neglected the needs of black and brown communities on the South Side, including denying access to life saving trauma care, so why should they get the honor and prestige that comes with the Obama Library?" said high school senior Victoria Crider in a statement.

She continued: "President Obama has tried to stop gun violence and create opportunities for young black men, meanwhile the University of Chicago sits in the center of a gun violence epidemic on the South Side and has shown that it does not value black life, by refusing to open a trauma center and save the lives of the young black men dying at their door."

Residents' calls for top-of-the-line emergency care have grown since the 2010 death of 18-year-old Damian Turner, a youth advocate who was gunned down in a drive-by shooting just blocks away from the world-class University of Chicago Medical Center. Even with the hospital so close by, Turner was required to be taken to the closest Level 1 trauma center at Northwestern Memorial -- nine miles away -- where he died.

The University of Chicago closed its trauma center in 1988 in order to cut costs.

Meanwhile, the location for President Obama's library and museum is up for grabs. Though he spent much of his career in Chicago, Obama went to college in New York City and grew up in Hawaii. Last week, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan attempted to thwart the competition by pushing a highly controversial bill to earmark $100 million in state money for the construction of the library here in Obama's adopted hometown. 

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