Minneapolis: Stop the demolition! Stop polluting native communities!
Minneapolis MN – On February 19, around 100 protesters and community members gathered at the Roof Depot site in the East Phillips neighborhood to protest the impending demolition of the building. The Climate Justice Committee organized the protest as part of the week of action for the Defend the Atlanta Forest, connecting the struggles against environmental racism and police terror in Atlanta to the local struggle against the pollution of oppressed nationality and working-class communities like East Phillips. The Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar also joined the protest, demanding justice for Manuel “Tortuguita” Paez Teran, a forest defender murdered by Atlanta police.
Despite the pleas of community members, the Minneapolis city council voted on January 26 to approve the contract for Rachel Contracting to perform the demolition on the site. Because the Roof Depot building sits upon arsenic-laden soil, the demolition will release arsenic into an already polluted community and the city’s plans for the site – a city diesel refueling station – will only further deteriorate the air quality.
Demolition is imminent and the city has already added increased fencing and “No trespassing” signs to the property in an attempt to stifle the voices of residents who will live with this increased pollution for years to come.
With the demolition slated for the immediate future, community members expressed their anger with the city for ignoring any alternatives and moving forward with the demolition. Addressing the crowd, Rachel Thunder, a member of the American Indian Movement and a resident of East Phillips, declared: “We’re going to make a stand. We’re not going to let this happen. This land that we’re standing on is stolen land. This is native land and we’re not going to let this kind of environmental racism continue to kill and poison our people.”
Organizers from various groups, including the Climate Justice Committee and the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute, have more actions planned for the upcoming weeks to protest the demolition and halt its progress.