The Chicago 6 Are Free!

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The Chicago 6 are arrested for protesting at Crawford Coal Plant
The Chicago 6 being arrested for protesting at Crawford Coal Plant in Chicago. Photo by Liz Nerat

All six of the activists arrested yesterday at the Crawford coal plant have been released from police custody and are safe and sound — and hopefully resting!

While actions can seem glamorous and fun — and they sometimes are — we often forget that sitting and waiting for people to be processed and released from jail is an incredibly long and boring but extremely important role to fill in any direct action scenario. Yesterday afternoon and evening I sat in two Chicago courthouses waiting for the arrestees to come out from behind bars. I waited with several other activists who played support roles during the action, and during the (nearly 12) hours that we waited for our comrades we had a lot of time to reflect on the events of the day.

We woke up early in the morning and met close to the Crawford coal plant to do one final run-though of the action plan before everyone set out to play their roles. The activists who planned to climb the fence and onto the giant coal pile that feeds the plant nervously prepared to risk arrest while the rest of us buzzed about making sure that we were fully prepared for the day.

We left for the Crawford plant just before 10:00am and, before I knew it, six activists bravely climbed over the fence surrounding the plant and up a mountain of coal to unfurl a giant 7’ by 30’ banner reading “Close Chicago’s Toxic Coal Plants.” The banner was situated just next to the plant and a conveyor belt carrying coal — it was quite a site to see in front of a backdrop of cold, grey Chicago sky. Two additional activists unfurled a second banner reading “Si Al Pueblo no Al Carbon” — “Yes to the People, No to Coal” in Spanish — in front of the fence. The two banners communicated a strong message demanding clean air for Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood.

Security from Midwest Generation, the company that owns the Crawford plant, quickly arrived on the scene, and Chicago Police followed a short time later. After an hour of holding the banner atop the mountain of coal, the six activists were arrested and taken into custody by the police. The arrests, like the action, were nonviolent, peaceful, and orderly.

Close Chicago's Toxic Coal Plants
Photo by Liz Nerat

Several organizations worked together to make sure that today’s action went as smoothly as possible. The Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) has spearheaded the local campaign to shutter the Crawford plant and we hope that this action furthers their efforts to force city leaders to protect the health of Little Village residents by closing this dirty coal plant immediately. Rainforest Action Network, along with our Chicago-based chapter, RAN Chicago, joined Rising Tide North America and the Backbone Campaign to donate their time, labor, and energy to today’s events. We are thrilled with how today’s action went, and look forward to working together again soon.

Check out pictures of the action and, if you can, please donate to help with legal support for the Chicago 6.  Many thanks to everyone for all your hard work and support!