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'Dumping Day': Activists Bring Shingle Mountain To City Hall, Continue Calling For Its Removal

Jim Schermbeck is the director of the environmental group Downwinders at Risk. He wears a black shirt and has his fist up as he speaks at Monday’s Action to relocate Shingle Mountain. There's a huge pile of of brown sack bags next to him.
Keren Carrión
/
KERA
Jim Schermbeck, director of the environmental group Downwinders at Risk speaks at Monday’s Action to relocate Shingle Mountain.
Updated: October 13, 2020 at 1:41 PM CDT
Tuesday, Oct. 13 the city of Dallas approved a $450,000 contract with Roberts Trucking, Inc. to remove Shingle Mountain.

For more than two years, a pile of rubble called Shingle Mountain has been sitting in Southeast Dallas.

A group of about 50 environmental activists, faith leaders and Dallas residents gathered at Dallas City Hall Plaza on Monday to say it's far past time to get rid of it.

On Monday as they walked to the plaza carrying brown sacks and holding signs that read “Stand with Marsha. Move the mountain,” one woman started singing in a melancholy tone: “Justice will be done. Justice will be done someday.”

The sacks they carried were filled with roofing materials from Shingle Mountain. This was their way of moving the mountain, at least in part, to city hall.

“But until the city manager declares this a public health emergency and sets a specific date of a speedy and safe removal of all the toxic matter those actions are empty promises,” Rabbi Nancy Kasten, who represented the organization Faith Forward Dallas said.

The group called the event Dumping Day. They voiced their concerns about how they feel it’s taken too long for the city to remove Shingle Mountain, the huge pile of shingles located in a predominantly Black and brown neighborhood of the city. Activists have long-called this an act of environmental racism.

An activist carries two bags of shingles, with the phrases, “Clean Toxic Waste” and “Move The Mountain,” during today’s Shingle Mountain relocation action at Dallas City Hall.
Keren Carrión
An activist carries two bags of shingles, with the phrases, “Clean Toxic Waste” and “Move The Mountain,” during today’s Shingle Mountain relocation action at Dallas City Hall.

At the plaza grounds they began to dump the pile of sacks one by one to symbolize that they were bringing the problem to the city for them to finally take action. The city is set to vote on Tuesday to determine which of the nine contractors the city has received bids from will be in charge of the mountain’s removal.

“I’ve never seen the collective cowardness and cruelty that a council that is exhibiting to these families in this situation. Not one person at city hall has said ‘We’re sorry for screwing up.’ This is the first council I can remember that has acted so recklessly with human lives,” Jim Schermbeck, director of the environmental group Downwinders at Risk said.

Schermbeck has worked for over 30 years with various city councils on environment issues. He says they could have cleaned up Shingle Mountain a long time ago.

A majority of the people walked to the front of the group and shared their sentiments. One woman read a poem by Andrea Hawkins-Kamper called Be About the Work, which dives into asking for justice in a peaceful and faithful way.

“These are your constituents, but yet you stifle their health. You don’t care about their well-being. You sit there and you want us to think you give a damn about what has happened to us."
Reverend Stacey Brown

Each speech ended with a collective chant, “Move the mountain. Move the mountain.”

“These are your constituents, but yet you stifle their health. You don’t care about their well-being. But yet, you sit there and you want us to reelect you. You sit there and you want us to think you give a damn about what has happened to us,” said the Rev. Stacey Brown with the environmental group Southern Sector Rising.

The city hasn't set a date to start removing the pile of shingles.

In a statement council member Tennell Atkins, who represents the area where Shingle Mountain sits said, “The City and the State have been working diligently on an agreement between the City, the State, and the second property owner for the removal of all materials from the property. This has been a long and frustrating process, and impossible without the tireless commitment of the City’s residents, stakeholders, and City staff.”

After the demonstration, the group collectively began to pick up each sack of shingles and loading them into a city trash pick up truck.

On Tuesday the Dallas city council will vote to hire a company to haul Shingle Mountain away.

Environmental activists hold signs to demand the relocation of Shingle Mountain, at the action event at Dallas City Hall.
Keren Carrión
Environmental activists hold signs to demand the relocation of Shingle Mountain, at the action event at Dallas City Hall.

Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member and writes about the economic impact of COVID-19 on marginalized communities for KERA News. Email Alejandra at amartinez@kera.org. You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @_martinez_ale.

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