Matthew Kaplan Photography

General Iron Victory Rally at City Hall - February 18th, 2022

"It shouldn't take a hunger strike for the city to do the right thing!" exclaimed Breanna Bertacchi on Friday evening in front of City Hall. But it did take a 30 day hunger strike by Bertacchi and others, as well as a year of marches and rallies, for the city of Chicago to admit that moving a polluting industry from the affluent northside to a less wealthy, and largely minority community on the southeast side, was just plain wrong. This realization was finalized yesterday with the city's decision to deny an operating permit to the General Iron / Reserve Management Group metal shredder, on the basis of the harm it would do to the air quality of the neighboring homes and schools.

"The southeast side is no longer your dumping ground!", said Olga Bautista of Southeast Environmental Task Force, speaking to the assembled video crews and reporters. "We will not go back to being the city's sacrifice zone!". She continued with a blistering attack on Mayor Lightfoot, and 10th ward alderman Sue Garza for not standing up for the community, and not meeting with the protestors. Bautista finished by praising the students of George Washington High School, located just two blocks from the site of relocated scrap metal recycling yard, for their concerted activism against the metal shredder. "This is your win!" she added emphatically.

While savoring a singular victory in their fight for environmental justice, the joyful celebrants promised not to relent in the struggle for clean air in Chicago's minority neighborhoods. Another of the hunger strikers, William "the kid from Pilsen" Guerrero, referring to a controversial recycling facility run by Sims Metal Management in the Little Village community, vowed, "Sims, we're coming after you too!"

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