The Energy Task Force of the Organization of the Northeast

An overview of activism undertaken by residents of Chicago's Uptown and Edgewater neighborhoods to protest a 19% rate hike from Com-Ed in 1980. A new edit of footage shot in 1980.

00:03Copy video clip URL Onscreen text: “The Energy Task Force of the Organization of the Northeast O.N.E.. Chicago, 1980. A community action in opposition to proposed electrical rate increases. A Video by Mirko Popadic.” Protestors sing “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” with lyrics about the energy’s company’s exploitative practices: “They’ve hiked our rates they’ve shut us off. No more! No more!”

00:20Copy video clip URL Demonstrators gather and chant. One member explains that this is the beginning of Edison’s rate hike, and the broader political and community situation.

01:00Copy video clip URL A man wearing a Com-Ed hardhat and a skull mask explains that they are there to protest the rate hike because it means more nuclear power for Illinois. 

01:10Copy video clip URL Protestors, including a man in a horse mask referred to as “Mr. Ed” share their thoughts. 

01:24Copy video clip URL Speakers address the gathered crowd at a lectern, offering updates on political and community developments: “As working people we have seen our real wages dropping while unemployment is rising. Now we are being asked to bail out Commonwealth-Edison. Today is just the beginning. I think we’ve had enough! They’e had a rate hike this year. How many goddamn rate hikes do they need?!?”

03:30Copy video clip URL The need for citizens to testify and intervene. 

04:25Copy video clip URL The incompetence and mismanagement of Com-Ed being saved by the Illinois Commerce Commission and the bill being paid by the public, who cannot afford the increase. 

05:40Copy video clip URL A woman and “Mr. Ed” testify directly to the energy board. “Now you’re gonna want a 19% rate increase, which is ridiculous. No wonder. We can’t have anybody that knows anything about us. You know why? Everybody is rich sitting on the rich board. Why don’t you put some poor people on the board. Mr. Ed I would like you to come to my house and stay one week on what I have to survive on and then you will understand.”

06:43Copy video clip URL Discussion of conservation as investment into “our’ homes and jobs and communities over footage of Chicago streets.

06:59Copy video clip URL A man addresses a gathered group, relating the protest actions at the Illinois Commerce Commission, which refused to meet with them. “Utilities are not private enterprise. They are publicly regulated monopolies. What we are doing as the public is trying to get a handle on regulating those monopolies for the sake of all of us.” The protest actions were nonetheless successful.

08:00Copy video clip URL Residents share their thoughts, with members of the ICC in attendance. 

08:50Copy video clip URL Discussion of the people whose lives are hurt by the rate hikes. 

09:10Copy video clip URL Protestors sing 

09:40Copy video clip URL Commissioner Barrett explains that he will be voting “no” for the rate hike. 

10:10Copy video clip URL Residents and community leaders share their outrage over the rate hike, contrasted with the governor’s apparent indifference to “popular decision making.”

11:56Copy video clip URL End credits. 

12:08Copy video clip URL Onscreen text: “Although, the Illinois Commerce Commission voted in favor of 19% rate hike, all was not lost. The utilities were encouraged by the ICC to open energy conservation facilities in the Uptown/Edgewater communities.



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