Minneapolis City Councilmember Linea Palmisano (13th Ward) wants to amend the city’s “Legislative Agenda and Policy Position” to add “clear guidance for lawful conduct” at public government meetings, and to support legislation “that would create enhanced criminal penalties for assaults and threats of violence against public officials, public employees, or their families …”
City Councilmember Robyn Wonsley (Ward 2) is proposing changes to the state’s legislative agenda, including adding a requirement for police to carry liability insurance.
Mainstream media missing the story: Minneapolis’ hypocrisy
More than two dozen Native American organizations showed their support today for an Indigenous-led, non-violent direct action, occupying the Roof Depot site in the East Phillips neighborhood. The action was a peaceful and prayerful gathering to highlight neighborhood demands to stop city plans to expand its Public Works yard onto the site. It would bring more traffic and diesel exhaust to an already polluted neighborhood, including the Little Earth of United Tribes housing complex.
A massive police response cleared the occupation last night. The city already has erected concrete barriers to block entrance, MPR reported.
For years, the neighborhood has wanted to redevelop the Roof Depot site into a community-owned asset, with an indoor urban farm, affordable housing, large solar array, and more.
At a press conference today, Marissa Cummings, President and CEO of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, read letters from the Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors (MUID) and the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council (MIAC) regarding the Roof Depot controversy.
The MUID letter supported the Urban Farm, a “better, community-led, green initiative” in place of the city’s plans. It would “better mitigate the negative social determinants of health caused by environmental racism,” the letter said. It also denounced “the militaristic actions taken by the Minneapolis Police Department … to dismantle a peaceful and ceremonial occupation at the Roof Depot site.”
East Phillips residents and friends gathered Sunday to restore the community artwork Minneapolis city workers unceremoniously removed from the fencing around the controversial Roof Depot site.
The city wants to use the Roof Depot site near 28th and Hiawatha to expand its Public Works yard, a move neighbors say would bring more pollution to an already polluted neighborhood. The East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI) has proposed a much more community-friendly development for that site.
The city wants to demolish the unused warehouse building on the Roof Depot site, the same building EPNI wants to repurpose into an indoor urban farm, small business incubator space, and more.
Complicating matters, this area was home to a pesticide plant that left massive arsenic pollution. Workers removed some 80,000 tons of arsenic-contaminated soil from the former Superfund site. However, that work didn’t touch the contaminated soil underneath the warehouse, which would get stirred up during demolition, neighbors say.
Minneapolis city leaders say their controversial plan to expand the Public Works yard in East Phillips has been in the works for years, an effort to upgrade aging facilities and improve efficiencies.
Much less discussed is how the Public Works project is part of an interlocking set of city plans to build a new fire station and sell city land for private development.
The city’s plan also violates its commitments to reduce racial disparities, an issue city leaders have failed to address.
The East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI) strongly opposes the city’s plan, saying it would increase local air pollution and harm residents’ health.
While the city has downplayed resident health concerns, federal health agencies recently released a map ranking East Phillips in the highest tier of its Environmental Justice Index, which identifies “communities most at risk for facing the health impacts of environmental hazards.”
Here is a more complete picture of why the city is breaking its racial equity commitments. It begs the question: Just when does the city plan to start living up to those commitments?
Minneapolis city leaders are once again at a fork in the road in their commitment to racial justice.
At issue are competing visions to redevelop the Roof Depot site in the East Phillips neighborhood.
Mayor Jacob Frey wants the city to use the Roof Depot site to expand the existing Public Works yard near Hiawatha Avenue to consolidate Public Works operations.
The East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI) wants to develop the site into a community-owned asset, with “an indoor urban farm, affordable housing, cultural markets, and incubators for small businesses near accessible public transit.”
Since 2017, the City of Minneapolis has made several racial justice commitments. They seem to align with EPNI’s plan much better than the city’s Public Works plan.
The City Council will vote on Roof Depot site demolition this week, the first step in expanding the Public Works yard. City councilmembers supporting the project need to explain to the public how their vote meets the city’s racial justice commitments.
East Phillips community leaders have a dream: To increase the livability of their notoriously polluted neighborhood. And they have a plan: Renovate the former Roof Depot and Sears warehouse site into a community-owned multi-use resource. It would include an indoor Urban Farm – producing healthy foods in what is now a food desert – space for small business, jobs training programs, low-income housing, and a large solar array.
Six years ago, the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI) was negotiating to buy the Roof Depot site, but the city of Minneapolis intervened and bought the property. The city wants the land to consolidate its Water Works Maintenance Facility, currently in Southeast Minneapolis, with Public Works operations already on Hiawatha Avenue next to the Roof Depot site.
The city is blocking what would be a community asset and replacing it with a project that harms neighborhood livability.
The city is breaking multiple promises its made, and policies its passed, to address the kinds of racial injustice that exist in East Phillips.
The city of Minneapolis inexplicably has kept a report from public view that would provide a win-win-win-win — for the East Phillips’ Urban Farm development, the city’s Water Works facility upgrade, the city’s climate goals, and the city taxpayer.
The report was leaked to the public, apparently some time last week.
The city’s Public Works Department issued a statement that the report was no more than “an informal, internally drafted report for contingency planning purposes only.”
Joe Vital, a South Minneapolis community organizer who backs the East Phillips Urban Farm project, said it was “disheartening” that the city suppressed the document.
It “puts into question transparency in this city,” he said. “If we are missing information at this level, it makes me wonder where else it exists?”
“It invites the question: Who is really steering this Hiawatha Expansion Project?”