Lightfoot blamed in Little Village smokestack demolition debacle

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CHICAGO — Elected officials and community leaders from the Little Village and North Lawndale neighborhoods are denouncing Mayor Lori Lightfoot over a power plant demolition.

It has been five days since the controversial demolition and the dust is far from settled.

While Lightfoot has directed blame towards the developer, activists are now directing blame towards the mayor.

The old smokestack of the former Crawford Coal Plant came down in spectacular fashion on Saturday, sending a massive plume of dust and debris over much of Little Village.

Residents were already in fear over a pandemic and now they are also in fear about other toxins in the air.

Developer Hilco has apologized, blaming a contractor for failing to follow mitigation procedures outlines by the city.

But Thursday morning, a group of elected leaders and activists claimed Mayor Lightfoot is also to blame.

Ald. Byron Sigcho Lopez said the city has yet to explain why an implosion was allowed to proceed during a pandemic. Others questioned why they have to continually second guess the city and department of health.

The city has ordered a halt to all further demolition pending an investigation and health commissioner said air samples from the site do not contain asbestos.

Regardless, a class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Little Village residents to demand an immediate clean-up of all homes, businesses and open areas impacted by the dust cloud.

Hilco received a nearly $20 million tax subsidy from the city to redevelop the site into a massive distribution center.

Activists are calling on the city to rescind the subsidy.

They are also demanding the immediate installation of air monitors so they can know whether the respiratory threat in the area is bigger than COVID-19.

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