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‘Elves’ protest fracking on Illinois governor’s lawn

Activists in costume erected fake oil drill at Quinn’s Northwest Side home

By William Lee, Chicago Tribune reporter 7:42 a.m. CST, December 24, 2013

Had Gov. Pat Quinn been home to look out his front window Monday afternoon, he might have witnessed a strange sight: four elves dressed in green smocks and some in red leggings erecting a mock oil drill on the lawn of his Northwest Side home.

The roughly 10-foot oil drill, made of PVC pipe and painted black, wasn’t noticed on the quiet block in the Galewood neighborhood until about 1 p.m., Chicago police said.

Illinois State Police, who provide security for the governor, and the Chicago Police Department’s bomb and arson unit initially treated the incident as a suspicious package, operating cautiously around it. But soon activists from Rising Tide Chicago, a climate change group, issued a news release claiming credit for the early Christmas gift, saying it was a protest against Quinn and others opening Illinois to hydraulic fracturing. The practice, also known as fracking, presents an environmental hazard, the activists said.

“We are delivering this rig today,” Mike Durshmid of Rising Tide Chicago said in the release, “because if Governor Quinn and the other people that have opened up our state to fracking had to live next to fracking and had to obtain their water from a well I think they would not bring fracking to our state.”

The group also posted several pictures from its Twitter account of the elfin activists hoisting the oil rig.

“@govenorquinn we just delivered your #merryfrackmess present,” read the message posted to Rising Tide Chicago’s Twitter feed.

State police officers took photos of the object before dismantling it and disposing of it, authorities said.

Chicago police classified the incident as “noncriminal” and don’t anticipate any arrests, said Officer Daniel O’Brien, a police spokesman.

The governor, who was attending several events throughout the city, wasn’t home when the faux oil rig was discovered. His office declined comment.


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