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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Monday May 20th 2024

Time to Activate An Uprising of Support Around East Phillips

East Phillips neighbors and allies overflowed the City Council Chamber on January 26 in opposition to the demolition of the Roof Depot building. The City Council approved the demolition on a 7-6 vote. Pending ongoing legal action, demolition is expected to begin in late February. Source: Delaney Russell

By ANDREW FAHLSTROM 

Minneapolis is a deliberate settlement built on Native land. The land we live on was taken through brutal violence, unilaterally justified through force and broken treaties and lies. The repercussions of this original violence shapes so much about our lives to this day.

As you read this, the now long-established City of Minneapolis is practicing its own version of Manifest Destiny on an area of land in the East Phillips neighborhood. The City is hell-bent on shoving a diesel vehicle parking lot and maintenance yard down the throats of our neighbors. It will sit on the site of the former Roof Depot business, which itself sits on top of a federal Superfund toxic contamination site.  The City has been steadily advancing a nightmare plan that will amplify the effects of the industrial pollution from the asphalt plant and metal foundry that already choke children’s lungs in the Little Earth community and the surrounding neighborhood. The playbook they are working from is one that has always forced more pollution, industry, contamination, and violence into poorer and more diverse neighborhoods and ignored their pleas to stop the abuse. 

Home to Little Earth and thousands of native peoples, East Phillips has always been a place for visionary building of community, culture, alternatives, and healing. It has also always been a battleground for stopping extraction, contamination, violence, displacement, and divisions. East Phillips has been fighting back! Our neighbors in East Phillips have been asking for our help defending themselves against the cold machine and bureaucracy of the City of Minneapolis for years. As demolition at the site looms in February we are all faced with a test, what will we decide to do? 

Our experiences over the past few years remind us, in both intense and simple ways, that together we both can and will take bold action to care for each other and protect our community and protect the sacred. Our recent experiences have also made it painfully clear that there is no corporation-centric government force that we can count on to save us from violence, abuse, and nonstop extraction and displacement. It’s up to us to act, and to act boldly.

Our friends and neighbors have not backed down. They face a multi-billion dollar City bureaucracy that has been weaponized against them, but their hearts and vision have carried them forward. Across our city we see the same corporate and domination mindset that wants to remake the city in its image. The rich will support any politician that will give automatic preference to the haves over the have-nots. The City is willing to bulldoze over a community vision for the land.  

We know what will be required of us to win. To defend East Phillips and permanently stop the city’s aggression we will need to commit to even more bold action and push harder to win. Now is the time for all of us to commit to rise up and add our energy to a full diversity of tactics: from lawsuits to lobbying, to locking our bodies down and more.  

It’s up to us to stay on the path of defending the sacred and building the world we want to live in.

Learn more about the Urban Farm Project and get involved in community defense at epnifarm.org and via the associated social media accounts.

Andrew is a former resident of East Phillips who now resides in Powderhorn Park. His daughter developed asthma as a young child while living in East Phillips.

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