A University of Chicago alum was arrested after allegedly attacking trauma center activists who disrupted U of C President Robert Zimmer's Saturday morning speech at the Alumni Awards Ceremony.
At the awards ceremony, held at Rockefeller Chapel, about 20 trauma center protesters "held a banner in front of Zimmer that read: "U of C does not think black lives matter," according to the Trauma Care Coalition.
"They chanted demanding that U of C open a trauma center and that President Zimmer meet with the Trauma Center Coalition," a news release from the coalition reads. "Instead of agreeing to a meeting, however, President Zimmer left and cancelled the event, forcing the ceremony to end early."
Police arrested Russ Zajtchuk, who graduated from U of C in 1960 and from the Medical School in 1963, and charged him with simple battery after he walked out of the awards ceremony and allegedly "punched one faith leader, charged at and kicked a current student organizer, and pushed our student videographer's camera into her face," according to the Trauma Care Coalition.
In a statement Saturday, student Trauma Care Coalition activist Sydelle Keisler said: "I am horrified that the simple demand for a trauma center to save black lives on the south side would provoke such extreme and unwarranted violence from an alum who is so highly esteemed by the university. It's obvious to me whose lives matter to the University."
DNAinfo Chicago reports that Zajtchuk, former president of the U of C's Medical and Biological Sciences Alumni Association, has been released on bond.
"Any attack on a protester is deplorable," U of C spokesman Jeremy Manier told the news site. "It is unacceptable that this protest in Rockefeller Chapel forced the cancellation of an event intended to honor alumni who have done great service for society over many decades."
Saturday's trauma center protest was one of several demonstrations held by the Trauma Care Coalition as part of a week of actions to coincide with the university's Alumni Weekend. On Wednesday, nine activists with the campaign for a South Side trauma center were arrested after they shut themselves inside the university's administrative building as part of a sit-in. The arrested protesters were released from police custody on Friday.