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Latino State News

UPDATE: Heat Turned Off at Site of Pilsen School Sit-In

Monday, at the request of CPS, People’s Gas shut off the gas to Whittier Elementary’s field house in preparation for the building’s demolition, said a People’s Gas spokesman.

For almost three weeks, parents have been living in Whittier Elementary School’s field house after staging a sit-in to protest the Chicago Public Schools’ plans to tear it down. A CPS-hired structural engineer found the building to be unsafe and they planned to tear it down and build a soccer field, but parents of the students believed they had a better idea.

The parents wanted the field house turned into a library and said they had spoken with their own engineers who said it would cost less to repair and convert the building into a library than to demolish it.

CPS said they want a third engineer to inspect the building, and that is why they turned the gas and subsequently the heat off.

While the official CPS statement is that the gas was turned off for the inspection, the parents in the building are saying it’s an attempt to “freeze” them out as temperatures are beginning to drop into the 30s and 40s at night.

Manuel Beltran, a Whittier parent, said parents would stick it out by using electric heaters.

“They want us to run away but we are not going to,’’ said Beltran. “We are not going anywhere.’’