High School Students Protest Coal in Pilsen

Students, parents had a clear message to coal companies: Clean up or close down

By Britni Day and Charlie Wojciechowski
|  Wednesday, Jun 15, 2011  |  Updated 6:17 PM CDT
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For the second time in less than a month, protestors target a coal-fired power plant they say is harming the health of nearby residents.

For the second time in less than a month, protestors target a coal-fired power plant they say is harming the health of nearby residents.

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"Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Dirty coal has got to go!"

That was the cry that filled the air Wednesday morning in Pilsen as students from Juarez and Lozano high schools staged a protest against coal.

Just a month after eight Greenpeace activists were arrested for staging stunts at the South Pulaski Street bridge and the smokestack at the Fisk Generating Station, students staged a peaceful protest aimed at the same coal companies.

Students along with parents marched and wrote messages in mud on the sidewalk informing their community of their very clear message to the coal companies: Clean up or close down.  

"We've got a coal plan that's one of the biggest polluters in the city and in such close proximity to Juarez high school and all the people who live in this community," said Graham Jordison of the Sierra Club. 

Both the Fisk and Crawford plants in Pilsen are blamed for putting pollution in the air and prematurely killing 42 people each year, activists said. Pollutants coming from the Fisk coal fired power plant include mercury, soot, and sulfur dioxide.

"We are hoping to get the green power ordinance passed so Fisk will either clean up or close down," protestor Luis Vega said. 

Protestors say plants like Fisk and other high pollution businesses in predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods could be considered environmental racism.

"This doesn't happen in affluent communities anywhere in this nation. This happens in communities of color and communities of poor income," protestor Mario Cardenas said. 

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