Local activists stand in solidarity with smokestack climbers in candlelight vigil

by David Pomerantz

May 24, 2011

Since activists occupied the 450-foot tall smokestack at the Fisk power plant in Chicago, the response around the country has been incredible.

Thousands of you have sent emails to Edison International CEO Ted Craver, the owner of the plants, telling him to shut them down now. Hundreds of you in the city of Chicago have called Mayor Rahm Emanuel, asking him to close the plant.

But the most touching response has come from the community of Pilsen that surrounds the Fisk plant. The individuals in that neighborhood, like those in Little Village near the Crawford plant, have been fighting King Coal for years.

For the people who live in these neighborhoods, fighting Fisk or Crawford is not about politics – it is about keeping their children out of asthma wards and their friends and neighbors healthy.

Tonight, these local coal fighters showed their solidarity with the activists on the smokestack at a candlelit vigil outside the plant.

On a few hours notice, about 25 people trickled down to a street corner near the Fisk Plant. Most were from the Pilsen neighborhood and had heard about the vigil from friends or other activists who have been working hard to close this plant. People held candles, drank hot chocolate and spoke a few words about what it has been like to fight for the health of their families and neighbors. 

They filmed messages for the activists, saying words like “Thank you so much for what you’re doing. We need more people out here like you guys. I live in the neighborhood and it means a lot, a lot, a lot. We’re down here supporting you guys.”

After a while, the community members migrated to a nearby park where they’d have a better view of the activists. They flashed lights at the activists from the ground, and saw them flash their lights back from the smokestack. They yelled up to them “Thank you!” and heard the activists yell “Thank you!” back.
It was a beautiful moment for the activists on the ground and the ones atop the smokestacks, all of whom are fighting with everything they have to close these plants.


David Pomerantz

By David Pomerantz

David Pomerantz is a former Senior Climate and Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace USA, based in San Francisco. He helps lead Greenpeace's campaign for an economy powered by 100% renewable energy.

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