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Feds investigating city after civil rights complaint filed by environmental groups Oct 20, 2020 by Sun-Times (Linda Hudson)

Feds investigating city after civil rights complaint filed by environmental groups

The Department of Housing and Urban Development opened a formal inquiry after Southeast Side groups accused Chicago of environmental racism.

The city supports General Iron’s move to the Southeast Side despite years of complaints and city actions alleging pollution and nuisance violations in Lincoln Park, community groups say.
 Sun-Times file

Federal officials are investigating the city after Southeast Side residents complained their civil rights were violated by a long pattern of environmental racism.

A Department of Housing and Urban Development official confirmed in an email last week to local groups that the department “opened a complaint” to look into allegations that residents’ rights were violated under federal fair housing laws.

The groups cited zoning and land-use policies, highlighting the city’s current role in relocating General Iron’s metal-shredding operation from white, affluent Lincoln Park to Latino-majority East Side neighborhood. The facility still needs one additional permit from the city to operate on the Southeast Side.

“Racist policies are killing our neighborhood by making it a dumping ground for the dirtiest and most dangerous polluters,” said Peggy Salazar, director of the Southeast Environmental Task Force, one of three organizations that filed the complaint with HUD in August.

A spokeswoman for Lightfoot declined to comment. HUD officials didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke and People for Community Recovery are the other two groups who filed the complaint.

“Communities of color have to be part of the solution,” said Cheryl Johnson, director of People for Community Recovery. “The city has been shutting us out.”

Brett Chase’s reporting on the environment and public health is made possible by a grant from The Chicago Community Trust.

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