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Defend the Depot

Updated: Feb 24, 2023

South Central Minneapolis Anti-Racism Collective Open Letter to Mayor Jacob Frey and the City Council

To Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and the Minneapolis City Council,

We, the neighborhood associations of the South Central Minneapolis Anti-Racism Collective, stand in solidarity with our neighbors in East Phillips against the demolition of the Roof Depot building for the Hiawatha Expansion Project as planned by the City of Minneapolis. In doing so, the city is going against a decade of consistent and unyielding opposition from a racially diverse, working-class community. The demolition of the Roof Depot building will bring even more pollution to a neighborhood that, along with North Minneapolis, suffers from the worst air-quality in the city and, as a result, significantly higher rates of asthma, heart-disease, cancer and many other health conditions.

The City of Minneapolis has long recognized the need to reduce pollution in East Phillips in words. In 2017, the city launched the Green Zone Initiative to clean up the air, water and soil of its most polluted neighborhoods. In 2019, the city amended its mission statement to include its commitment to “dismantle institutional injustice and close disparities in health, housing, public safety and economic opportunities.” After the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer employed by the city, they further declared that racism is a public health emergency. Since then, the City of Minneapolis has failed to remove two of the biggest polluters from East Phillips: Bituminous Roadways and Smith Foundry. With the demolition of the Roof Depot building, the city is now failing again to translate commitments made in words into meaningful action.

East Phillips is presenting a powerful alternative vision: the conversion of the Roof Depot building into a community-owned indoor urban farm. In stark contrast to the City, the community’s vision meets all of the goals of the Green Zone initiative and offers a variety of solutions to the significant environmental, health, food, and racial disparities in East Phillips neighborhood and Minneapolis.

We call on the City of Minneapolis to meet the demands of the community and the coalition of Indigenous peoples and allies joining together to stand for environmental justice for the East Phillips community and all of Minneapolis. Those demands are:

· Completely relocate the Hiawatha Campus Expansion Project

· Hand over control of the Roof Depot site to the community

· Provide funding for the community vision of an indoor urban farm at the Roof Depot site

· Commit to plans for removing Bituminous Roadways and Smith Foundry from East Phillips

· Enact a moratorium on encampment evictions

· Invest in pilot programs to provide shelter and services to the houseless community

· Provide funding for peer support workers

There is still time for the City of Minneapolis to stop, change course and listen to our neighbors, the community of East Phillips. We are joining our voices with East Phillips because we believe every person in Minneapolis–regardless of race, income, or neighborhood–deserves to breathe clean air and live long and healthy lives. Mayor Jacob Frey and members of Minneapolis City Council, we implore you: listen to our friends and neighbors in East Phillips and fulfill your commitments to them and to all of us.


The South Central Minneapolis Anti-Racism Collective

Bancroft Neighborhood Association

Bryant Neighborhood Organization

Central Area Neighborhood Development Organization

Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association


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