It’s the people who make the city great, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s re-election campaign website says.
But some of those people say they aren’t feeling the love after a new campaign ad credits the mayor for getting two South Side coal-fired power plants shut down — and not the community activists who did most of the work.
Two dozen or so activists from Pilsen, Little Village and Bridgeport chanted and waved signs in City Hall Wednesday, blasting the ad for its misleading message, they say, and the unauthorized use of a 2011 photograph of several activists protesting on the grounds of one of the power plants.
“Rahm is a thief!” said activist Gloria Fallon. “He stole our photograph and our hard work for political gain.”
The activists say Emanuel’s ad — titled “Clean Air” — suggests it was his work that led to the eventual closure of the Fisk and Crawford stations, when it was in fact the activists’ tireless labor over several years, they say.
In February 2012, Emanuel announced a deal with Midwest Generation to retire the two plants. At the time, the mayor’s press office said Emanuel had reached an agreement “in consultation with community groups and aldermen.”
The protesters said Wednesday that the mayor’s campaign never asked for permission to use the photograph. On Wednesday, the group delivered a “cease and desist” order to the mayor’s office, as they chanted: “We did the work, you stole the credit. On Election Day, you will regret it.”
Emanuel spokesman Steve Mayberry said in response to the activists’ complaints: “Community groups spent a decade fighting against these coal plants but faced a City Hall that refused to take action. Mayor Emanuel heard their concerns and quickly joined the fight . . . This was a fight by hundreds of community activists that he was proud to play a small role in.”
The ad features Pilsen community activist Kim Wasserman praising Emanuel’s leadership in getting the plants closed. Wasserman was not at Wednesday’s event and did not return calls seeking a comment.