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Minneapolis rallies for climate justice on Earth Day

By Jo Poeschl and Kent Mori |
April 30, 2022
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Minneapolis Earth Day march
Minneapolis Earth Day march (Photo by Kim DeFranco)

Minneapolis, MN - 80 people rallied and marched, April 23, to celebrate Earth Day in Minneapolis, despite rain clouds. The was organized by the Climate Justice Committee and centered around important struggles in the ongoing fight for climate justice. The rally started outside a chain link fence surrounding the closed Roofing Depot factory that is subject of a struggle between the city government and neighborhood activists.

While the fight to stop Line 3 - which carries tar sands oil, the most toxic of petroleum products - is better known, the local fight to turn the Rooftop Depot building into an urban farm is also about community control of resources in the climate justice struggle. The demolition of the Rooftop Depot will result in the release of clouds of arsenic dust so that the city of Minneapolis can build a heavy equipment yard. The East Phillips neighborhood is home to many oppressed nationalities and is designated as a Green Zone by Minneapolis.

The action was interspersed with music by Garbanzo & Chickpea of “Pipeline Blues” fame and by Jo Poeschl and it opened with dances by Kalpulli KetzalCoatlicue, an indigenous group from South Minneapolis. The opening land acknowledgement by a seventh-grade student and CJC supporter set the tone when they stated that “we are organizing for climate justice to save the planet from global warming and to end environmental racism.”

After the opening ceremonies, Tracy Molm from the Climate Justice Committee pointed out, "There is hope, and it won’t come from the Democratic Party or from big corporations trying to ‘Go Green’ - it comes from us coming together and demanding more! From the over 800 people who put their bodies on the line to slow construction of the Line 3 oil pipeline. Hope also comes from the East Phillips Urban Farm Initiative.”

The president of the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI), Dean Dovolis was full of spirit and enthusiasm as he announced that two community organizations, representing the East African and Asian communities, committed $3 million each just in the past week. He added “this has become a $7 million cause of community ownership of green culture of aquaculture, of agriculture. Meaning everyone in this community will be able to participate. This will bring 750 jobs to the community.” Currently, the mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, is standing in the way; he is demanding to move more pollution into the neighborhood and ignoring the pollution from demolishing the building on the site.

The event also included excellent speeches from Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee member, Diana Hernandez, who spoke about climate refugees and the role environmental destruction plays in immigration. Meredith Aby-Keirstead from the Anti-War Committee spoke of the role of the U.S. military in climate change - they are the largest institutional polluter and are left out of carbon emissions agreements like the Paris Accords. Maddy Eguizabal from SDS at the University of Minnesota and Kelly Thomas from Twin Cities Coalition 4 Justice 4 Jamar made the connection of the role of police in oppressed nationality communities that are also targeted by polluting industries and said the solution is community control both of the police but also of resources.

The group marched around the neighborhood to honks and lots of support. Chants included, “What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!” “Urban farm, not toxic harm!” and “Stop Line 3!”