Minneapolis cops bust up Roof Depot Occupation

Police evicted those occupying the Roof Depot site in protest over city plans.

When residents from a low-income BIPOC community take the initiative to improve their community and children’s health, what do you do?

In Minneapolis, you push them to the limit then arrest them.

The Roof Depot occupation began this morning.

An Indigenous-led occupation of the Roof Depot site in the East Phillips neighborhood began at sunrise this morning. Organizers were asking for allies to join them in support.

By evening, Minneapolis police had cordoned off a large perimeter around the Roof Depot site to keep those supporters far away.

Information on the number of arrests and citations wasn’t immediately available.

The Indigenous-led Occupation was the result of a long-standing dispute between East Phillips (including Little Earth) residents and the City of Minneapolis over the Roof Depot site near East 27th Street and Longfellow Avenue.

The city has a Public Works yard just north of the site and wants to expand the yard to the south.

The East Phillips neighborhood already has excessive toxic industrial pollution, and residents already suffer disproportionately from air pollution-related illnesses including asthma. They can’t live with more traffic and diesel exhaust. They want to redevelop the Roof Depot site into a community-owned asset, with an indoor urban farm, affordable housing, large solar array and more.

Site map.

The city is doing a “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Frey” thing.

Dr. Jekyll is the mayor of a city whose mission statement is to take “strategic action to address climate change, dismantle institutional injustice and close disparities in health, housing, public safety and economic opportunities. In partnership with residents, City leaders help to ensure all communities thrive in a safe and healthy city.”

Mr. Frey is promoting a project that will increase health disparities with the old excuse of “operational efficiencies.” He can’t be bothered to work in partnership with city residents to help ensure their community can thrive in a safe and healthy city.

Dr. Jekyll is lobbying to have Minneapolis become the first to get UNICEF’s “Child Friendly City” designation in the United States.

Mr. Frey seems indifferent to the high levels of childhood asthma and suffering that exist in East Phillips and in fact is actively promoting a plan that will make them worse.

Dr. Jekyll runs a city that has declared racism a public health emergency, created a Truth and Reconciliation process, and created “Green Zones,” including East Phillips, which are supposed to protect polluted neighborhoods from getting burdened with more pollution.

Mr. Frey has his police force go after residents who stand up for their dignity and their health, and dare to call him and the city out for their hypocrisy.

Police cordoned off a large area to keep out supporters of the Roof Depot Occupation. Here, at 27th and Longfellow.

Upcoming opportunities

Tuesday, Feb. 21: 1 p.m. press conference at the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, 2300 S. 15th Ave, Minneapolis

Friday, Feb 24 (9AM): Attend the court hearing at which our attorneys will ask for a temporary restraining order, pending our appeal (zoom Link).

Sunday, Feb 26 (2PM): Come to the community block party hosted by Defend the Depot outside the Roof Depot (corner of Longfellow Ave and East 27th St). It’s open to all members of the East Phillips neighborhood and Little Earth community, as well as concerned residents in the surrounding area. The intention of this event will be to distribute food and supplies to community members, create art and music together, and make the City listen to our demands to cancel the demolition of the Roof Depot.

  • Act now to tell Rachel Contracting to drop the Roof Depot demolition contract! 
  • Ask your MN legislators to support $150M in funding for EPNI’s vision and to stop the grandfather status of Bituminous and Smith Foundry.
  • Subscribe to receive urgent updates (upper right of this page).

A few final thoughts.

  1. The overwhelming police response to the Roof Depot Occupation reminded me of the overwhelming police response to the non violent direction action against Enbridge Line 3. It’s the go-to strategy.
  2. Tension between community members and police was apparent tonight. Frey and the Minneapolis police have done nothing to try to improve police-community relations in the past year.
  3. Last April, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (DHR) issued a scathing report about the Minneapolis Police Department’s pattern and practice of racial discrimination. The city and state were supposed to be negotiating a court-enforceable Consent Decree to address those problems. Where’s the Consent Decree?
  4. Where does the city’s Department of Racial Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging stand on this issue? Recall the city used to have a Division of Race & Equity. Last spring, 17 of the division’s current and former employees went public criticizing their office’s history of ‘toxic, racist and unsafe workplace conditions. The Department of Racial Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging was a reboot. Here’s hoping it weighs in.

7 thoughts on “Minneapolis cops bust up Roof Depot Occupation

  1. excellent reporting and suggested action steps. Love the Metaphor of Jekyl and Hyde. points out beautifully the situation.


  2. […] Minneapolis cops bust up Roof Depot OccupationTuesday morning at 5 am, activists led by residents of Little Earth occupied the Roof Depot site. By Tuesday evening, police had blocked streets all around the site and began taking or destroying tents and supplies and arresting the occupiers.from Debra K R. […]


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