Selected documents and background information on CHE's action in solidarity with Chicago Southeast Side struggle for environmental justice...
Stop General Iron #DenyThePermit
'Black and Brown communities are not dumping grounds'
Olga Bautista moderated the press event at 333 S. State St., Chicago, January 18, 2022
Press conference statement January 18, 2022 by Jim Bloyd, DrPH, MPH. Dr. Bloyd represented CHE Cook County at the press event: "Faith leaders, public health community members and SE Side community members hand deliver letters to Chicago Department of Public Health" Video of statements to the press here (courtesy Southeast Enviromental Task Force).
Media coverage of the delivery to Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, of the January 6, 2022 public letter from the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health included a report by Mike Krauser WBBM News Radio, who caught audio of Bloyd's statement.
Open letter of January 6, 2022 signed by the Dean of the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health and hundreds of public health professionals, health workers, elected officials and organizations--including CHE Cook County and Health and Medicine Policy Research Group-- addressed to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Dr. Allison Arwady, and Ms. Candace Moore begins by stating:
"We, undersigned organizations, and individuals, write to you as your public health colleagues to
communicate to you and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) our insistence that the permit
application for the RMG/Southside Recycling, which acquired the assets of General Iron in Lincoln
Park in the fall of 2019, be denied. The well documented excess burden of pollution already
experienced by residents living in Southeast Chicago is strong enough evidence against a permit for the
RMG/Southside Recycling’s facility in the Southeast Side. The decision to issue the permit would be in
direct opposition to the shared vision to close the racial life expectancy gap in Chicago that we as public
health professionals have committed to in Healthy Chicago 2025 which envisions a city where all people
and all communities are empowered, free from oppression, and strengthened by equitable access to
resources, environments and opportunities that promote optimal health and well-being" [emphasis in the original].
Subject: RMG/Southside Recycling Permit Application and the Imperative to Deny the Permit
To follow up or for more information about the letter, contact Jeni Hebert-Beirne, Associate Dean for Community Engagement, Interim Director of the Collaboratory for Health Justice and the ChicAgo Center for Health and EnvironmenT – Community Engagement Core (CACHET CEC) at email@example.com.
Health Experts Say General Iron Permitting Process Flawed and Needs to “Center Community Voice from Step One” December 9, 2021
“The entire validity of the HIA depends on the full and authentic inclusion of the community's voice at every step in the process. To not do so perpetuates health and racial inequities in Chicago, siding with the powerful business owners and against those who have been disenfranchised historically. If the City of Chicago is serious about advancing equity, it needs to start the HIA process over again, and center community voice from step one.”
Jonathan Heller PhD, Former President of Society of Practice of Health Impact Assessment December 9, 2021
The Chicago Department of Public Health is Failing to Follow Standards for Health Impact Assessment and Community Engagement
Critique of Health Impact Assessment Process: Statement by Joanna Tess, MPH at November 11, 2021 Press Conference
Joanna Tess, MPH, Leadership Team member, gave a statement at the November 11, 2021 press conference held by environmental justice organizations of Southeast Chicago residents, responding to the City of Chicago's Health Impact Assessment (HIA) Session #1. The Chicago Department of Public Health convened Session #1 on November 4th. Here is Ms. Tess' statement (click on the image):
"At best this is performative health
equity and at worst this is part of a coordinated effort to prioritize corporate interests over
Watch the entire 40-minute video of the press conference here. Among the people giving statements are Hunger Striker Yesenia Sanchez, and Meleah Geertsma. Joanna Tess begins her statement at 40:40 (Click on video image below.)
UPDATE: Ms. Tess is a co-author, with Nancy C. Loeb, Leah M. Song, Meleah Geertsma, Keith Harley, Victoria Persky, Serap Erdal, & Jeni Hebert-Beirne, on the 36-page December 4, 2021 Comment letter to Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady, US EPA Regional Administrator Shore, US EPA Administrator Michael Regan, and others.
Dr. Lindarae Murray, MD MPH FACP
The proposed move of metal shredder General Iron from Lincoln Park to the Southeast Side is a textbook case of environmental racism. It has to stop.
by Wesley Epplin, Olga Bautista & Linda Rae Murray May 4, 2021
March 23 2021 CHE/HMPRG Responds to Commissioner Arwady
In a March 23rd, 2021 letter to CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady, five leaders of the Collaborative for Health Equity Cook County--Health and Medicine Policy Research Group express their "profound disappointment" with the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH).
"We agree that the health department should raise and use its public health voice. What is profoundly disappointing is that you have stepped back from that duty here," states the letter signed by Jim Bloyd, Joanna Tess, Linda Rae Murray, Susan Ávila, and Wesley Epplin.
“CDPH’s own 2020 Air Quality and Health report demonstrates that this Southeast Side community is already at the worst decile in the City’s air quality and health index. Anything other than a denial is contradictory to the city’s own plans and is an environmentally and structurally racist decision,” said Joanna Tess in a media release.
The letter was a response to a 'Dear Colleagues' letter the Commissioner sent to the leaders---who are spearheading an anti-racist public health action in solidarity with hunger strikers--- on March 17th. On March 15th #StopGeneralIron movement lead by @ChiHungerStrike succeeded in winning a delay of the permit from CDPH for the polluting operation on the Southeast Side of Chicago.
March 8, 2021 Open letter from over 500 health workers & 70 local and national organizations demands #DenyThePermit
Read the open letter signed by over 500 public health and healthcare workers, students, community activists, and over 70 national and local organizations demanding that the City of Chicago take decisive action to #DenyThePermit to relocate the General Iron/Reserve Management Group (RMG) scrap metal recycling facility to the Southeast Side of Chicago.
The Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, Dr. Allison Arwady, stated her commitment to "not just health equity" but "racial equity" when she introduced the Healthy Chicago 2025 health plan. But Dr. Arwady's actions contradict her words: Data from the City of Chicago's Air Quality and Health report (Source of the graphics above) of 2020 show that the new location on the Southeast Side already has the worst air quality and health status in the City, while the old location in Lincoln Park has the best.
The people who live in the new location on the Southeast Side are predominantly Black and Latinx, while the Lincoln Park neighborhood is white. The folks living on the Southeast side will experience even more pollution than they do already. And their health will worsen; inequities in health will worsen. Racial equity will worsen.
Unless they have a change of heart and decide to listen to the brave hunger strikers and #DenyThePermit, Dr. Arwady, and Mayor Lori Lightfoot will be supporting the systemic, structural racism that has historically produced higher rates of disease and lower life expectancy of Black and Brown Chicagoans.
Commissioner Dr. Arwady is committing public health malpractice: Statement by Jim Bloyd, DrPH at March 4, 2021 rally at Mayor Lori Lightfoot's house
"Dr. Allison Arwady Commissioner of the Chicago Dept. of Public Health is in the process of committing public health malpractice because she is creating a gap between established science and public health policy. And because she is violating her ethical duty to value Black and Brown lives on an equal basis with white lives."
Sixteen people joined the 1-day solidarity fast with 3 supporters on Friday, February 26, 2021.
CHE Cook County convened an online check in for fasters and supporters at Noon, followed by a tweet storm at 12:30 p.m. supporting the #DenyThePermit and #StopGeneralIron demands of the Southeast Side hunger strikers. Tweets called on Mayor Lori Lightfoot @ChicagosMayor and the Chicago Department of Public Health @ChiPublicHealth to serve the residents of Chicago by fulfilling the highly touted values and racial equity goals of the City's own Healthy Chicago 2025 plan.
Does Healthy Chicago 2025 mean anything to Mayor Lightfoot?
Graphics (with superimposed text) from page 20 and 46 of the Healthy Chicago 2025 plan are shown below. The graphics show the clear contradiction between what the plan states, and the current disregard for Southeast Side residents' health by the Mayor and Chicago Department of Public Health.
The Collaborative for Health Equity Cook County is very familiar with the strategic planning document. We provided guidance and technical assistance to CDPH in the creation of the plan. Black arrows, circle, and red underlining and text are modifications to the graphics below. We want to call readers' attention to the plan's priority to "address inequities in ENVIRONMENT" "with a focus on..Communities burdened by pollution" "so within one generation... all Chicagoans will... Breath clean air free of harmful pollutants."
The Mayor and Chicago Department of Public Health are disregarding not only their own plan. They are also ignoring the explicit demands for a healthy and safe environment by Black and Latinx residents whose health and well-being they say they champion.
At the launch of the plan Mayor Lori Lighfoot said Black and Latinx residents don't have access to safe environments, and they suffer from high levels of chronic health conditions, that lead to preventable and unjust gaps in life expectancy ranging from 9 to 17 years. The Mayor said "That's why we're launching Healthy Chicago 2025. This plan will embody a shared vision for health and racial equity that values the lived experiences, and needs of our residents... and prompts us to ask ourselves, What can we do to create a Chicago where every resident has access to the resources they need to live the healthy life they deserve?" (Healthy Chicago 2025 Plan Launch 18:05-18:30 ).
Commissioner of CDPH Dr. Alison Arwady noted that there is a greater focus of the plan "not only on health equity, but on racial health equity. We're calling it out more specifically, were being even more explicit, in the work, in the planning, in the conversations, and we invite you to join us." (Healthy Chicago 2025 Plan Launch 28:55-29:08)
Residents of the Southeast Side say the time of dumping toxic industry in BIPOC neighborhoods is over. The map of the City of Chicago above shows the Mayor and CDPH are supporting a proposed move of General Iron from the majority White neighborhood of Lincoln Park to the Majority Latinx and Black neighborhood of the Southeast Side. (Source: Safia Samee Ali and Erik Ortizs Jan 29, 2021)
The map above shows that The Mayor and CDPH are permitting General Iron, a business that pollutes the air, to move from a part of the City with high quality air--where most of residents are white--to a part of the City with very low quality air--where most of the residents are Latinx and Black. This will worsen air quality where it is already bad, and will worsen inequitable and preventable health outcomes that already disproportionately affect residents of the Southeast Side, including chronic disease and premature death. (Source: Safia Samee Ali and Erik Ortizs Jan 29, 2021)
We stand in solidarity with the Chicago hunger strikers and Southeast Side community members demanding clean air and health equity. Join us in speaking up for an equitable distribution of social determinants of health, and for racial and environmental justice to support public health and health equity.