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Minneapolis Climate Justice Committee demands polluters relocate

By Whitney Wildman

Minneapolis protest against two major polluters in East Phillips neighborhood.

Minneapolis, MN – On July 9, 40 activists, organizers and community members gathered to rally for environmental justice. The Climate Justice Committee (CJC) organized this rally as a kickoff event for their new campaign to force two heavy polluters, Bituminous Roadways and Smith Foundry, out of the East Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis.

Over the past couple months, the people of Minneapolis have been celebrating their success of winning a major environmental justice fight against the demolition of the Roof Depot in the East Phillips neighborhood. While the people continue to celebrate this win, the CJC has been pushing to further the fight for environmental justice in East Phillips.

The CJC is organizing to get industrial polluters out of this majority oppressed nationality and immigrant working-class community. East Phillips has some of the highest rates of asthma and cardiovascular disease in the state of Minnesota, specifically due to the pollution concentrated in the neighborhood. The presence of Bituminous and Smith in the neighborhood is a continuation of this legacy of over polluting East Phillips.

According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Smith Foundry alone is responsible for 75% of lead pollution in all of Hennepin County. Smith and Bituminous together are responsible for the following pollution and more in East Phillips: 56% of the carbon monoxide emissions, 11% of CO2 emissions, 99% of particulate matter emissions, and 66% of sulfur dioxide emissions.

Protesters marched across the highway and onto the Greenway bike trail, carrying a “Fight for the air we breathe” banner and chanting, “Land back” and “Bituminous and Smith out!” Bicyclists passed with fists raised and cars honked in solidarity. CJC members handed out informational flyers to pedestrians so they could learn more about the struggle.

In one speech, Joe Vital of the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute reminded everyone of the importance of the solidarity between movements that led to success in the Roof Depot struggle. He also called back to the critical role of mass movements in the Roof Depot struggle and reminded everyone to carry that forward in the Bituminous and Smith fight.

Vital declared, “Roof Depot is the prototype, Roof Depot is the blueprint. We’ve been given the roundabout. ‘Go to the city, go to the state,’ but you know what we did? We went to the people, and the people is what shut that shit down!”

As the march concluded, Jasper Becker of the CJC gave a final speech, showing international examples of the connections between climate disasters and capitalism. Jasper brought these connections back to the struggle to relocate Bituminous Roadways and Smith Foundry when they said, “The theft of native land and the commodification of native land are one and the same. We cannot stop climate change without ending capitalism!”

#MinneapolisMN #EnvironmentalJustice #RoofDepot