Minneapolis, Minnesota - Over 100 immigrants and supporters gathered at the Waite House Community Center on Saturday, January 21 to hear from grassroots leaders in the struggle to win drivers license access for all, and from elected officials that are advancing the bill in the state legislature. The event was organized by the Minnesota Immigrant Movement (MIM), a grassroots organization that’s been fighting for drivers license equality in Minnesota for many years. The Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC) was also present and spoke at the event. The event, which was conducted in Spanish, started with an explanation of how the state legislative process works. The drivers license bill needs to pass through several committees in both the state House and Senate, then to a vote of the full House and Senate. After reconciling any differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill, it goes to the governor to approve it or veto it.
New Documentary On Late Sixties Civil Unrest Is A ‘Rosetta Stone’ For Decoding The Modern Day Police State
Minneapolis, Minnesota – A new documentary film shines light on the history of the militarization of American police in an era defined by civil unrest, drawing sharp parallels to today. Without mentioning recent events in the entire film, Sierra Pettengill’s new documentary “Riotsville, USA” still invokes striking parallels between the late 1960s and the George Floyd protest uprisings in 2020. The film was produced during 2015-2021, premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January 2022 and was widely released in September by Magnolia Films; it’s attracted more coverage in lists of top documentaries for the year. [See our editor’s note below for more Unicorn Riot original reporting on domestic military and police training programs.]
Minneapolis, Minnesota – With life-threatening cold this winter season, the City of Minneapolis continues to evict encampments, displacing unsheltered people and throwing away their personal belongings, including propane tanks they rely on for warmth. The longstanding Quarry encampment in Northeast Minneapolis is the latest under threat of eviction after being served a notice on Dec. 21 to leave by Dec. 28. In response, Quarry residents and advocates held a press conference on Dec. 27 demanding the authorities not evict the encampment and announcing that community would come to defend the residents. The next day, when the eviction was scheduled to occur, upwards of 100 to 150 encampment defenders showed up to the Quarry over the course of the morning. The city said the eviction was put on hold due to the large activist presence.
Minneapolis, Minnesota - Roughly 100 East Phillips residents and supporters rallied at the Hennepin County courthouse, December 15, protest the city’s East Phillips demolition plan and long legacy of systemic racism. For generations, East Phillips residents have suffered from multiple sources of concentrated pollution, including toxic deposits of arsenic from a former pesticide factory. When the vacant Roof Depot warehouse came up for sale, the neighborhood developed plans to renovate the building into an urban farm and community hub. But, despite proclamations of environmental justice, the city of Minneapolis plans to demolish the building - exposing a bed of untreated, arsenic-laden soil underneath - and replace it with a public works truck yard, where 888 city vehicles would further concentrate toxic fumes in one of the city’s most polluted neighborhoods.
Minneapolis, Minnesota - More than 100 people took to the streets, October 15, to protest U.S. military interventions, from Ukraine to Syria, Palestine and Somalia. The marchers shut down streets in the Minneapolis Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, where they were cheered by passing cars and pedestrians who came out of their homes to chant “Money for human needs, not for war!” with the protesters. The protest was initiated by the Minnesota Peace Action Coalition (MPAC), which spearheaded a national call for a week of militant anti-war street protests circulated by the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) with a slogan of “Back to the streets! Say no to U.S. wars!” More than 70 cities, both in the U.S. and internationally, have registered protests for the week of October 15-22.
In this episode of All Things Co-op, Cinar and Kevin talk with Erik Esse, the producer of the new documentary The Co-op Wars. The Co-op Wars traces the history of the food cooperative movement in the mid to late 1970s in Minnesota's Twin Cities. The rapid development of the food co-op network in the area prompted a split between anarchist "hippies" and Bolsheviks who styled themselves as the “Cooperative Organization” and set about taking over the People's Warehouse by force. The film provides powerful lessons for cooperative organizations and activists today. As Erik and the ATC guys dissect the film and its implications, they touch on the role of traditional politics, the limits of "third-worldism" in the first world, the mainstreaming of co-ops, the potential influence of COINTELPRO, and much more.
Minneapolis, Minnesota – The corner of 47th Street and Cedar Avenue in Minneapolis was quiet for the first time after spirited drumming and chants of, “What’s disgusting? Union busting!” filled the air from July 31-August 1. Employees of the Cedar Avenue Starbucks had returned to work after a two-day strike in protest of the company’s refusal to bargain with the newly formed union, as well as what the workers say are backhanded attempts to undermine union efforts. Baristas and shift supervisors united to raise grievances against the manager of the location and Starbucks corporate for difficult working conditions and low pay. In a letter posted on the front door of the store, workers addressed their manager: Direction only from the top is an unjust system we refuse to participate in. You are complicit in that system.
Minneapolis, Minnesota – Minneapolis has experienced a real estate boom since the economic crash of 2008 which was triggered when lenders gave out millions of discriminatory home loans with adjustable interest rates to mostly Black and brown families causing a massive nationwide mortgage default. In the past decade, the city added over 20,000 new units to its housing stock, with the overwhelming majority being rental units. With increased housing supply, Minneapolis added 60,000 new residents, according to the 2020 census. In recent years, the City of Minneapolis has attempted to codify “upzoning,” a practice where multi-family housing stock is increased citywide, with its 2040 plan that banned the new construction of single family homes throughout the city.
Minneapolis, Minnesota – After swelling to serve several dozen residents swept from other encampments, the lot on 29th Street and 14th Avenue continues to be controlled by unhoused residents despite the ongoing threat of eviction. On July 8, dozens of community members rallied at the encampment in the early morning hours and staved off what many thought was an eviction attempt by the city. Unicorn Riot heard from East Phillips resident and encampment supporter, Angela Richards, along with encampment resident, King, about the roles they were taking during the morning of July 8 and their thoughts on encampment evictions. Update: On July 20, 2022, Minneapolis Police evicted the encampment. Unicorn Riot was live speaking with some of the residents displaced from the eviction.
Minneapolis, Minnesota - On June 22 union leaders from AFSCME Local 2822, representing 1300 clerical workers at Hennepin County, crashed the State of the County Address demanding, “Stop retaliation against union activists now! End racism, sexism, ageism at work!” While managers patted each other on the back and reconnected after two years of hiding at home, union leaders confronted public officials with signs and informational flyers. Workers are demanding the bosses stop targeting union stewards and activists. Bosses began targeting three union leaders in January 2022. The first was Irish Gauna, a single African American mother of five who was fired in late January for allegedly violating the county’s COVID testing policy.
Minneapolis, Minnesota - 25 community members and organizers entered Mayor Jacob Frey’s office, June 6, to demand that the city stop stifling the East Phillips neighborhood’s efforts to build a community-owned sustainable urban farm on the site of an unused Roofing Depot plant in their neighborhood. The coalition was led by the Climate Justice Committee and the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI). The site, which has decades’ worth of toxic arsenic waste in its soil and structures, is slated to be demolished by the city to accommodate more public works facilities. This would throw all of these toxins into the air of a neighborhood that already has some of the worst air quality in Minnesota.
Minneapolis, Minnesota – On June 1, 2022, authorities unsuccessfully cleared an encampment of tents on an unused strip of land off Interstate 35. Eviction defenders thwarted the sweep by asking for documents, helping residents pack and move, and using their bodies and placing objects in the way of authorities. Despite aggression from the contractors hired for the eviction cleanup, no tents were taken. Yet, all residents have since moved. Arriving around 9 a.m., State Patrol officers and Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) workers arrived to the encampment next to the northbound 28th St. exit from I-35W, with plans to clear the tents. Residents of the camp started living there because the previous encampments they lived in were also swept by the city.
Minneapolis, Minnesota - On Tuesday May 24, over 500 mental health workers will walk off the jobs at three hospitals in the Minneapolis metro area. The striking groups include mental health coordinators and psych techs, along with other job classes that perform mental health work. All three of the groups have organized and joined SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and Iowa (SEIU HCMNIA) in the last eight months and are fighting for their first contract. They work at Allina Health’s Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, Allina Health’s Unity Hospital in the Twin Cities suburb of Fridley, and MHealth Fairview Riverside Hospital in Minneapolis. While they work for three different hospitals, each with their own separate contract negotiations, the mental health workers are coordinating across the three locations and two health systems as they see the fight for a first contract with real improvements to working conditions and for safety in their jobs as a shared fight throughout the hospital industry.
Minneapolis, Minnesota - Two months after Minneapolis Police officer Mark Hanneman killed Amir Locke, 22, while executing a no-knock warrant, prosecutors say they won’t be charging Hanneman with a crime. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison released a 44-page joint report on April 6 explaining their decision in the case. Also released was a report by retired police officer John “Jack” Ryan. Locke was killed by Hanneman, who was part of a SWAT unit serving a pre-dawn no-knock warrant on February 2, 2022. Locke, a registered gun owner, was sleeping in a blanket on his cousin’s couch before being awakened by a SWAT unit at 6:48 a.m. after they entered the apartment with a key.
As Minneapolis teachers are nearing the end of the third week of their strike, a tentative agreement was reached early Friday morning between the union’s negotiating team and the Minneapolis public school district. Before the agreement was even released to the teachers, the district began flooding parents and educators with messages that classes are back on Monday. This is a lie. A tentative agreement does not end a strike. Only the workers on strike (in this case, the teachers and support staff) have the ability to do that — and they need time and space to read the tentative agreement, discuss it among their co-workers, community members and families, and then vote on it.