In support of the communities Little Village and Pilsen, yesterday myself and 7 others not only prevented three coal barges from delivering coal to the Fisk and Crawford coal plants for nearly 5 hours, we also sent the parent company–Edison International–the strong message: we can and will stop coal.
With the Crawford coal plant in the background, three climbers deployed a 60ft banner from the Polaski bridge with a steel cable stretched between them, blocking any boat traffic from passing beneath.
The communities of Little Village and Pilson have been organizing to shut-down the Fisk and Crawford coal plants for over ten years and after being dismissed once again by the city government earlier this year, they’ve broadened their tactics by putting Edison International in the lime-light.
The case for shutting down the plants is strong: the coal plants are two of the oldest in the country continuing to spew caustic gases into the air resulting in over 42 documented deaths each year and countless cases of asthma, respiratory disease and cancer in the surrounding communities. In fact, no other coal plants in the country are located in as densely populated of neighborhoods as the Fisk and Crawford coal plants (and it comes as no surprise either that these neighborhoods are primarily comprised of low-income, people of color). As if that wasn’t case enough for shutting down these plants, neither the energy created nor profits stay in Illinois. The energy from these plants is sent to Pennsylvania while the profits are seen by their parent company Edision International, based out of California.
At the same time, another crew of Greenpeace activists had climbed the smoke stack of the Fisk coal plant up stream. Over a 26 hour occupation of the stack, the activists painted a message visible for many to see–Quit Coal–in huge yellow letters down the side of the stack. For more information on their occupation, visit: Greenpeace Coal Stack Occupation.
While the eight activists who occupied the smoke stack are still in custody and are awaiting charges, myself and the seven others who blocked the three barges were arrested a little before 9pm Tuesday night, after holding off the barge for nearly 5 hours. We were handcuffed and taken to the 10th district Chicago Police station where over the next 7 hours we recalled stories from our action, sweet talked the guards into letting us eat our remaining energy bars as they sorted our gear and tried to sleep on the cold concrete of our holding cells. At 4am we were finally all released with two misdeamor charges: “peaceful public disturbance of reckless conduct” and “performing an aerial exhibition without a net.” Weary yet proud of our actions, we returned to our hotel and promptly fell sleep.
With more stories expected to roll out throughout the next few days, here’s a collection of media coverage so far:
Chicago Sun Times: Eight Greenpeace activists come down, taken into police custody
Chicago Tribune: Smokestack protesters come down, arrested