East Phillips Urban Farm Update

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Rally and Make Art! 

Join East Phillips organizers and community on October 9, 1PM, at the Roof Depot intersection. This will be a community rally and art-making event! The city recently tore down all the signs there, so folks will be making more to put up. 

Update:

On Thursday, September 22, 2022, amid ongoing protests from activists, Minneapolis City Council voted to move forward with demolition plans of the Roof Depot building in the East Phillips neighborhood.

What this means: the City has opened a Request for Proposals (RFP) for demolition of the Roof Depot building. That means the city is actively looking for companies to hire who will demolish the building. Per the RFP, the city will select a company by November 28, 2022, and officially enter into a contract on January 27, 2023. They estimate demolition will begin January 30, 2023.

The reason for the timing is unknown, but it may be to avoid substantial direct action given the winter weather. Regardless, this was a really bad step. It is one of the clearest examples of ongoing environmental racism in this city. It also shows how confusion and bureaucracy are mechanisms of power in their own right: they have made the fight as hard to understand as possible, hoping that most people won’t care enough to learn about the issue. 

But the fight is not over.

East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI) will be focusing on a few things during this time: 1) fundraising for their ongoing lawsuit against the city, 2) building their base, and 3) educating community stakeholders.

Overall Context:

There are primary dangers of the city’s plan: 

1) The Roof Depot sits atop an arsenic plume. An unsafe demolition could release this arsenic through East Phillips and other parts of Minneapolis. To date, the city has not provided specific details about how they will demolish the building safely. Do you trust Minneapolis to do this safely?

2) As we wrote in our update last year, the city “wants to relocate the city’s water yard to East Phillips, which would add at least 220 additional vehicles every day to the neighborhood—an area already incredibly burdened by traffic pollution.” A recent Minnesota Post article noted: “Asthma rates among children in East Phillips are more than two times higher than the state average.”

For a recent detailed overview of the situation, I recommend this piece on Healing Stories MN, published on September 2. 

Solidarity Forever

There are many reasons to be in solidarity with East Phillips. It is of course the right thing to do. We must always oppose injustice, especially when it perpetuates some of the most powerful structural evils in our history: settler colonialism, racism, and organized abandonment. 

This fight matters most for people in East Phillips of course, but I believe it matters for all of the Twin Cities as well. One way is incredibly, viscerally material: who is to say where this arsenic could go if the demolition releases it into the air? That is a risk to many, many of us. 

Additionally, as we try to build power in the Twin Cities metro area, Minnesota, and the country, we must both firmly reject the death-making projects of the ruling class and steadfastly advance life-giving visions of the better world we know is possible. The East Phillips Urban Farm is just that—it is an anti-capitalist and ecosocialist project that could be built by and for one of the city’s most oppressed working class neighborhoods. To win this fight would be a living model of a different, better world. To win would also help us build power for many of our current fights, and the fights still to come. 

Urban Farm, not Toxic Harm!

-by Connor S, Twin Cities DSA Member