WICKER PARK — Members of a community group that saw their time with Mayor Rahm Emanuel eclipsed by what they say was a "clearly staged" disruption by two mental health activists, issued a statement Friday saying they were "disappointed" by the incident.
"We wanted to get our side of the story out there," said Leah Root, president of the Wicker Park Committee, which had invited Emanuel and challenger Jesus "Chuy" Garcia to speak at their monthly meeting on Wednesday.
The meeting was interrupted by Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle and Debbie Delgado, who stood face-to-face with Emanuel and confronted him about the closure of the Northwest Mental Health Clinic, 2354 N. Milwaukee Ave., which was among several city-run clinics shuttered as part of 2012 budget cuts.
Root posted the following statement on the committee's Facebook page Friday:
"The Wicker Park Committee very much appreciated having Mayor Emanuel come to our March meeting. Although Mr. Garcia was invited, his staff couldn’t commit in time, and he is scheduled to come to our April meeting, on April 1st.
"As a committee, we were disappointed that two members of the audience — Ms. Delgado and Mr. Ginsberg-Jaeckle, who are not members of the Wicker Park Committee — imposed on the rest of the participants by interrupting Mr. Emanuel’s initial comments and launching into a ten minute, rambling discourse on Mr. Emanuel’s mental health stance.
"The disruption was clearly staged, including videotaping their entire confrontation. They also ignored several requests to wrap up their comments, sit down or leave by the Wicker Park Committee Board and by Park District security.
"Mayor Emanuel handled their confrontation very professionally and graciously, and agreed to meet separately with Ms. Delgado and Mr. Ginsberg-Jaeckle, in spite of their disruptive tactics."
WATCH THE VIDEO OF THE CONFRONTATION:
An account of the evening quickly went viral, as Twitter feeds exploded with allegations that Emanuel yelled at the activists, demanding, "'You're going to respect me."
Steve Mayberry, an Emanuel campaign spokesman, addressed that claim Thursday by saying: "The mayor was eager to get to the substance of the residents' concerns. After respectfully listening to the residents, he asked that they respectfully listen to his point of view. As a result, the meeting ended cordially, and the mayor is working with health officials to address the residents' needs.”
Ginsberg-Jaeckle refused to apologize Friday, saying they were simply trying to get their message across.
“While we understand that the committee was frustrated that they had a meeting with Emanuel and other subjects came up, he has not given equal audiences to all affected by his polices," he said. " ... Any time you do action out of desperation, you are left with no other alternative. We don’t apologize for [Wednesday]; we came with an agenda, of trying to make those affected by his polices get heard.”
Ginsberg-Jaeckle has created other disruption in the past — all related to the city's decision to eliminate the neighborhood mental health clinics.
In November 2011, Ginsberg-Jaeckle was part of a group that arranged a sit-in at the Mayor's Office, according to the Chicago News Cooperative.
In April 2012, Ginsberg-Jaeckle was among a group of seven protesters who demonstrated outside of Emanuel's office, the Tribune reported.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: