This article was written by the Peace Brigades International- Canada Project

Photo: Plains Cree land defender Rachel Thunder stands outside Roof Depot, February 21, 2023. Photo by Jaida Grey Eagle/Sahan Journal.

On February 22, MPR News reported: “A day-long occupation of the Roof Depot site in the East Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis ended when police swept the area and arrested eight people. Activists and neighbors had occupied the site for about twelve hours, camping out with tents, fires, and banners, to protest the planned demolition of the building.”

The article adds: “Rachel Thunder, an organizer with the American Indian Movement, was one of the people arrested. She and other occupiers stayed on-site when police gave them a ten-minute warning to leave. She said she was charged with misdemeanor trespassing.” 

Thunder says: “This show of force and violence from the Minneapolis Police Department under the city’s orders is a testament to their fear. Our occupation was nothing but prayerful, peaceful, sober, safe and unifying.”

Video: Thunder’s comments after her arrest.

MPR has also reported: “East Phillips neighborhood organizations and residents advocate for alternative uses of the area, including converting it to an urban farm, a community center and a site for tiny homes to shelter unhoused people.”

“Residents who oppose demolition say they believe it will release more pollution into the neighborhood. The lot next door to the Roof Depot was formerly designated as a Superfund site by the EPA — an area with significant arsenic contamination in the soil due to a pesticide plant that used to operate there.”

The Sahan Journal has further explained: “Members of the American Indian Movement and allies entered the gates outside of the warehouse Tuesday morning [February 21] at E. 28th Street and Longfellow Avenue, lit a sacred fire, conducted traditional sage and tobacco ceremonies, and began making camp, Thunder said.”

It adds: “The group, called Defend the Depot, is a coalition of people from the American Indian Movement, the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute, Little Earth Protectors, and other groups campaigning for environmental justice.”

That article adds: “The city of Minneapolis plans to demolish the building as early as Monday, February 27 so it can begin a public works facility expansion project.”

But by February 24, an injunction had been secured to delay that demolition for at least two weeks. The Sahan Journal reported: “The city of Minneapolis cannot proceed with plans to demolish the Roof Depot warehouse in the East Phillips neighborhood next week after a judge granted an injunction to a neighborhood group Friday [February 24] morning.” 

Mutual aid festival, February 26.

We continue to follow this.

For the latest updates, we are following on Twitter: Defend Nenoocaasi Camp, Rachel Thunder, East Phillips Urban Farm and Nick Estes

Twitter photo by Nick Estes.