Members and supporters of the Tempest Collective, readers of the Tempest website, are involved in struggles—large and small—across the country and indeed the world. In the interest of sharing our experience, building collective knowledge and wisdom, and solidarity with these struggles, we will be running short “Reports from the front.” We encourage submissions however short, sharing experiences and analyses. Please consider submitting here.
Below, Linda Loew reports on the latest battle in a year-long fight to stop the relocation of a toxic metal shredder to Chicago’s Southeast Side, a predominantly Latinx and Black working-class neighborhood that already suffers disproportionately from industrial pollution and severe environmental health risks. More on this struggle can be found here, here, and here.
On Friday, December 10, around two hundred mostly young people, including students and teachers from Chicago’s Southeast Side neighborhood, marched from Jonquil Park through the affluent North Side neighborhood, Lincoln Park, to the home of Dr. Allison Arwady, the Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, to demand that the city deny a permit to metal-shredder and polluter General Iron (recently rebranded as Southside Recycling).
In a victory earlier this year, the permit process was temporarily halted after a month-long hunger strike by several community members brought international attention and further review of air pollution studies and threats to public health.
With the city administration now poised to push through the permit, putting profit before human health, community members and supporters took to the streets again, with Santa on their side, to demand what they want for Christmas: “Clean air we can breathe!”
Four protestors sitting in and blocking the entrance to Dr. Arwady’s home were arrested and released. The struggle will continue as lives and public health are at stake in a community long under siege by industrial pollution, victimized by environmental racism, and neglected by politicians of both major parties.
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Linda Loew is a longtime socialist, feminist, and union activist. Now retired, she previously served as recording secretary and solidarity chair of AFSCME Local 1989 which led the successful passage of the first Black Lives Matter support resolution before the AFSCME Illinois state convention. Currently, she is an active member of Chicago for Abortion Rights, Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago, and the Illinois Single Payer Coalition.