Hunger strike protests General Iron move to Southeast Side

CHICAGO (WLS) -- People opposed to the plan to move the metal-shredding operations of General Iron to the Southeast Side are staging a hunger strike until the city denies an application for a permit to operate.

"I am willing to risk my life for my community," said Jade Mazon, activist. "Our backs are already up against the wall."


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At least five activists are taking part in the hunger strike. Wednesday morning a few of them were joined in a virtual news conference by several ministers who offered their support. The activists say the plan to relocate General Iron from Lincoln Park to the Southeast Side, home to mostly minority communities, is environmental racism.

"Southeast Side residents deserve just as much as the North Side does," said Oscar Sanchez, activist.

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"They say that air is free, but it's not free when it has impediments in it that take away our lives," said Rev. Vicki Johnson, St. Thomas Lutheran Church.

General Iron said moving onto the location near 116th Street and Avenue O would enable them to build a modern recycling facility, and that after a review by the mayor's office and the Chicago Department of Public Health, they expect to get an operating permit.


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"The Chicago Department of Public Health cares a lot about having healthy environments," said CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady. "We also have to make sure that we follow the, the laws and the requirements that are in place related to business operations, so my team is in the middle of reviewing that."

"We're asking for the permit process to stop," said Roni Facen, opposed to plant.

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Facen is part of a lawsuit to stop the permit process for General Iron, and says she supports those taking part in the hunger strike. She said many in the community have the same goal of keeping the recycling facility out of the neighborhood.

"The Southeast Side is used to promises," she said. "We're used to industry coming in and making big promises of what they'll do, but what we haven't seen is the follow-through."
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