On Saturday, PERRO was joined by members of Rising Tide Chicago (RTC) for an action outside the H. Kramer and Company brass smelter located at 1345 West 21st Street, in the heart of the Pilsen community. The rally was held not only to highlight the fact that H. Kramer is the neighborhood’s number one source of lead pollution, but to also draw attention to the fact that while thousands were protesting NATO in Chicago this past weekend, much of H. Kramer’s profits come from its sales to the Defense Department. H. Kramer has been a supplier to the Department of Defense receiving over $8 million in contracts between 2000-2011.
Here is a brief video of the action…
Protesters demanded that H. Kramer clean up its operations and accept conditions PERRO has asked it to follow as part of a 2011 lawsuit by the Illinois Attorney General for violations of lead emissions and improper operation of their pollution control systems. PERRO has proposed a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) that would have H. Kramer pay for the soil remediation efforts of surrounding homes, public parks, schools and community gardens. The SEP was rejected by H. Kramer. H. Kramer has also suggested its own SEP, but has refused release the details of its proposal to the public. The lawsuit continues unsettled at this time.
PERRO also made a gift to H. Kramer management to remind them of their responsibility. In front of the doors to the corporate offices of H. Kramer, PERRO members left buckets of lead contaminate soil from the community around the brass smelting plant. In a show of solidarity, PERRO members choose to leave the dirty in buckets, rather than dump it on the ground, realizing the workers at H. Kramer, not management, would be required to clean it up. PERRO members have become increasingly concerned about the effects of the plants pollution on plant workers.
PERRO was later joined by Fr. Alejandro Solalinde who came to the action shortly after the conclusion of the National Latino Congreso which he had been attending. Fr. Solalinde, an internationally renowned advocate for the rights of migrants is the coordinator of the Catholic Pastoral Care Centre for Migrants in Southwestern Mexico in the municipality of Ixtepec, Oaxaca state. Fr. Solalinde told the twenty or so people at the rally to not be disheartened by their small numbers, as “all struggles for justice start small”. Something PERRO has learned with its victory over Midwest Generation and the Fisk and Crawford coal fired power plants.
Here is video of Fr. Solalinde speaking at the rally…
See the whole event thanks to the UStream made by user OccupyMusician: