CHICAGO — A month after Little Village was covered by a cloud of dust, demolition is resuming on the former Crawford power plant.
It’s taking place not only in the middle of a pandemic, but also during a tense time with civil unrest in the neighborhood following the death of George Floyd.
About two dozen protesters gathered Friday morning at 36th and Pulaski in effort to stop the demolition that started around 6:30 a.m.
They didn’t keep crews from breaking down the building, but it was enough to stop traffic on Pulaski near 36th Street. Cell phone video captured a semi-truck driver confronting protesters in the middle of the road, and shoving one in the face.
“I’m appalled. I’m exhausted from fighting for this and it’s unjust that we have to fight for the right to breath,” resident Esmeralda Hernandez said.
In early April, a 145-foot smokestack was demolished in the Little Village neighborhood, spreading a huge plume of dust over the area. It caused a serious health concern, as COVID-19 was rapidly spreading across the city.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot postponed the Crawford power plant demolition, but now it’s back on schedule. The mayor said the building could collapse at any time, and poses a serious danger.
This time, the contractor vowed to use plenty of water to ensure another cloud of dust doesn’t engulf the neighborhood.
But community organizations question why the demolition is necessary in the midst of a pandemic. They continue to demand Hilco Redevelopment Partners leave the Little Village community and abandon its plans to redevelop the site as a warehouse and distribution center.
The truck driver involved in the confrontation with protesters was driving a Sunbelt rental truck. WGN has reached out to the company for comment, but have not yet heard back.