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Contact: Angie Viands, Rising Tide Chicago, email@example.com, 312-217-0145
Credit: Paul Goyette
Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Astor Street mansion was taped with bumblebee cut-outs at a May Day demonstration in opposition to the destruction of Bell Bowl Prairie
Cut-outs of the federally endangered rusty patched bumblebees left on the Governor’s fence.
Chicago, Illinois — A May Day celebration that centered around people having power over politicians took place Tuesday afternoon. People gathered in Lincoln Park, where speakers talked about the importance of saving the federally endangered rusty patched bumble bees that forage, and most likely, nest and overwinter at Bell Bowl Prairie. From the park, the group moved to Governor J. B. Pritzker’s mansion, where people spoke demanding that Governor Pritzker save Bell Bowl Prairie and chanted their support. An art demonstration then took place where cut-outs of rusty patched bumblebees were left on the Governor’s mansion estate’s fence.
Bell Bowl Prairie is planned to be bulldozed for the Chicago-Rockford International Airport’s expansion plan, as soon as June 1st. Advocates gathered together to celebrate the renewal of Spring with May Day, and imagine a renewal of their own that changes the circumstances of working conditions for people and changes the systems of climate collapse that are playing out globally and locally in Rockford, on the prairie.
May Day celebrators pointed out that it is overwhelming the billionaire class who are responsible for enacting the inadequate labor conditions that many people face. And it is the same billionaire class who are overwhelmingly responsible for continuing to profit off of the systems causing climate collapse. Governor J.B. Pritzker, whose family’s exorbitant wealth is tied to Hyatt hotels, is not an environmentalist or conservationist by any standards despite any claims of 30 by 30 or other greenwashing efforts to appear like a progressive Governor. They called out the Governor’s hypocrisy in funding the airport expansion when there are hundreds if not thousands of better investments that can be made in Rockford. Rockford is still reeling from the mass exodus of jobs in the early 1980s. Expanding the airport to provide low-quality jobs at Amazon, a company with a history of bad labor practices, is not a solution to this problem.
“At this time in our collective history, with climate change and biodiversity loss at an all-time high, we simply cannot afford to prioritize fossil fuel-powered airports over our ancient and irreplaceable native ecosystems like Bell Bowl Prairie,” recounts Jillian Neece, an organizer for Bell Bowl Prairie who was born and raised in the Rockford area. “Especially in Rockford, we need to be investing in green jobs that are healthier for workers and the environment.”
In 1968, Illinois Governor Shapiro saw the value in Bell Bowl Prairie and saved it from destruction. Governor J.B. Pritzker needs to step in and do the same thing again, or the remnant prairie will be lost forever. Mike Dunn, the executive director of the Greater Rockford Airport Authority, will not be persuaded to stop the expansion plan and save Bell Bowl Prairie by anyone and this is why the Governor must do something now to protect the rarest of all prairie. There are .01% of all prairies left in Illinois, and the gravel prairies like Bell Bowl are even rarer.
With his new campaign ad touting the Rockford Airport’s expansion having zero mention in the ad of Bell Bowl Prairie, the issue of protecting it was meant to be swept under the rug. Governor Pritzker is obviously siding with the interests of the ultra-rich, he is one of them of course, and he is not fulfilling his duties as a “public servant”. The rusty patched bumblebees have just one place they burrow into the ground to make a nest into their home. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has at least 5 extravagant homes, estates, and ranches along with innumerable other property investments in Hyatt Hotels.