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Climate Justice Committee leads march to celebrate Roof Depot victory

By Whitney Wildman

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Minneapolis, MN – On June 18, 40 activists, organizers and community members gathered to rally and march in celebration of the recent Roof Depot victory in the East Phillips community of Minneapolis. The march was initiated by the Climate Justice Committee (CJC).

The community has been fighting for nearly ten years to prevent the Hiawatha Expansion Project and Roof Depot demolition, both of which would have poisoned an already environmentally burdened community with diesel fumes and arsenic. Instead, the community wanted the city to give the Roof Depot property back to the people, so they could use the building in ways that serve East Phillips, a majority oppressed nationality, immigrant, and working-class neighborhood. The city finally caved and agreed to sell the Roof Depot property, but only after the people of East Phillips and their allies began to raise the stakes for the city by packing city council meetings and holding rallies and marches, culminating in an indigenous-led occupation of the Roof Depot site.

In celebration of the city finally agreeing to sell the property to the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI), a coalition of forces organized a block party in Little Earth, a native-preference housing complex within East Phillips. The CJC’s rally began at the Roof Depot site. Members of Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC) marched to the Roof Depot site as part of a national day of action for the Legalization for All Network, and their march joined the CJC rally as it began.

Speakers from the CJC, MIRAC and EPNI spoke about the win and the solidarity and in-the-streets organizing that made the win possible. Kay Lerohl of the CJC summed up the prevailing perspectives, stating, “Let us remember the strength of collective action, the power of our communities, and the profound impact we have when we stand together.”

The protesters marched through the East Phillips neighborhood to Cedar Field Park, holding a “Fight environmental racism” banner, and shouting chants such as, “¡Sí se puede!” and “When we fight, we win!” Passing cars honked in support, and neighbors came out in their lawns and front porches to witness the celebration. Upon arriving at Cedar Field Park, community groups set up educational tables, musical performances, free food and mutual aid tents to share in celebration and show that the support for the East Phillips community is ongoing.

The Climate Justice Committee was honored by the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute, the American Indian Movement and community with a blanket as part of a ceremony at the block party celebration.

#MinneapolisMN #EnvironmentalJustice #ClimateJustice #communityOrganizing