Monday, March 30, 2015

Setting the Record Crooked: Emanuel Again Takes Credit for Activists’ Work

Back in November 2014, Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel aired a commercial taking the credit for shutting down the coal-fired power plants that were poisoning the South Side. But community groups, including Bridgeport Alliance, fought back—we, not Emanuel, are the folks who battled for ten long years to close the plants. Bridgeport Alliance released a strong position statement and joined several of its allies in front of the mayoral office for a press conference to set the record straight.

In his usual style, Emanuel hasn’t let the objections of the citizens of Chicago stop him. In March 26’s mayoral debate, he was at it again: “Let’s take the neighborhood of Little Village that Chuy’s represented for 30 years. Working with community leaders, I finally closed the coal plant that was there spewing pollution.” His challenger, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, laughed and responded, “You single-handedly closed it? People worked on it for 10 years before you were ever elected. You were still in Washington. . . . Before the mayor ever moved into Chicago right before he ran for mayor, people worked in Little Village, in Pilsen and in Canaryville and Bridgeport to close the coal-burning plants. They protested. They testified. They signed petitions. . . . He’s grandstanding. He’s trying to claim credit for work that he didn’t do.” 

Bridgeport Alliance would like to clear the air once again. It's the citizens of Chicago—residents of the neighborhoods, not city hall—who make up the city, and we fight for our rights, and for rightful recognition. We object to Emanuel's appropriation of our work. As our chair, Ruby Pinto, says, "Grassroots organizing is about forming relationships with the people around you and creating a powerful community. The connections that were made during the fight to close the coal plant remain in place today." But, she notes, "I look forward to standing with my community no matter who the next mayor is."   

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