A Letter/Manifesto to our Leadership


This letter is one composed of many voices. We are affordable housing advocates, (many for 30 years), Lake Street business owners, and cyclists. All are neighborhood activists, (many for up to 40 years) who live or work in the Midtown or East Phillips Neighborhoods. Because of our collective years of activism we see three areas of concern for our city/county/state that need to be the priority of these bodies of government.


1.   Homelessness, and the encampments cropping up in our city. 

2.   The increased level of violent crime citywide.

3.   The need for jobs and economic development,  along with the rebuilding of East Lake Street’s small, minority, and immigrant businesses

    Nothing will be resolved in Minneapolis, if these three issues are not made our priority. For example, will Minneapolis be able to attract convention business or any businesses that employ its citizens if violent crime has over-run it and tent cities continue to crop up? We don’t want to become another Detroit and that is what’s happening. To address these issues lawmakers need to come together under holistic plans, like the heading home plans already created, crime reduction strategies, put in place in the 1990s, under the federally funded program, Weed and Seed and comprehensive plans for job creation, especially for minority youth. They need to listen to the experts, whose voices on homelessness, crime and job creation were once heard, when plans were implemented and we were on our way to solving these problems. New voices need to be heard like those coming from directors of shelters, those who do outreach, work with law-enforcement to create equal justice for all in order to reduce crime, and develop opportunities for youth and our neighbors in need of good-paying jobs. Many past and present strategies have been disregarded by those who govern. We have been told they can’t be implemented due to regulations, funding or other reasons. 

    If these three issues are addressed and funded many of society’s ills will be lessened if not alleviated with much less work, for much less money. Funding for them should be a top priority. Presently it is not. For example, many members of the Phillips Neighborhoods were the drivers for the creation of the Midtown Greenway. Many residents of these neighborhoods are avid cyclists, and have enjoyed its benefits and its connection to all the other trails in the Metro area. It took thousands upon thousands of hours of volunteer work and millions of dollars to create and today all that work and all those funds have gone down the drain, because of the encampments. Yet today the Minneapolis City Council, Hennepin County and the Minneapolis Park Board have moved forward with the construction of hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of new trails that cyclists are afraid to use, because of the encampments that continue to grow and attract crime, drug dealing, car racing, and fires. Cyclist (some on this letter) will say that they don’t need any more trails until homelessness has been addressed! “Nothing good comes of encampments,” said a former outreach worker in our neighborhood with years of experience. 


We have been affordable housing activists for more than 30 years: 

• advocating for funding and bonding on the state level, educating, adding input to Heading Home Hennepin, advocating for ordinance changes, and most importantly leveraging millions of dollars of neighborhood funding in order to build affordable rental units, houses, and rehab our housing stock. 


The contributors of this letter have been residents of East/Midtown Phillips from ten to forty years and have collectively:

• contributed hundreds of years’ worth of volunteer organizing in this community, from block club leaders, NNO, Phillips Community Clean Sweep, and annual festivals. We were the spark for the creation of the Midtown Greenway, saved the former Sears building to be transformed into the Midtown Exchange, lobbied the state for bonding and fund-raised for the building of the East Phillips Park Cultural and Community Center, among many other accomplishments. 


Through Weed and Seed, we leveraged funding:

• for the implementation of strategies and the creation of programs for fighting crime in order to keep our neighborhood safe. We funded youth programs, cameras on Bloomington Ave, ShotSpotter, and community policing. We worked with law enforcement to identify hot spots, and created restorative justice, among many other strategies and crime–fighting programs. It is sad to see so many of them go by the wayside.


For forty years the great organizers of Phillips worked to:

• bring in minority and immigrant businesses, especially the Latinx Community, worked with many organizations, like MADDADS, The Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, neighborhood youth organizations, churches, and mosques to make our neighborhood welcoming and livable for all.

    The encampments that have endangered our community along with the racism that has been allowed to systemically grow and fester in all departments of our city, including law-enforcement, causing violence and even death to some of our citizens, and the riots that were allowed to run rampant through our immigrant and minority owned businesses, a district serving a neighborhood populated with vulnerable, low-income families and the elderly who relied on those businesses, has set us back. We saw forty years of work and funding go down the drain. We feel like the sacrificial lamb. 

    Many of the businesses in the Midtown and East Phillips community including those on Lake Street were thriving prior to this year’s events. These businesses are a testament to the inclusive principles and practices that make our city so special! From our Latino bakery to our Somali café; we’ve been the benefactor of economic growth through inclusive policies. It’s imperative that the city employs strategies that will protect those businesses and those who frequent them. There have been many things lost this year; please don’t let these business owners and patrons lose their trust in our city. We had promised to protect them.  

    Lastly, the best social program is a job. Employment, training and jobs work to address the root cause of need which leads to crime. Under Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton we applied for and were designated an Empowerment Zone Community. Millions of dollars were awarded to create and train for jobs - Good paying jobs.

• We challenge the City/County/State to create at least 500 jobs with some of the newly approved stimulus dollars; that a Jobs & Employment initiative is prioritized for at risk youth of diverse backgrounds and those living on the margins, in our neighborhoods. 

• Support the Urban Farm concept as proposed for the Roof Depot Site and stop the relocating of more pollution oriented services in our Phillips Community. This job-creating example, is East Phillips’ fight for the former Roof Depot site for the creation of an Urban Farm and to save the former Sears Warehouse Building on that site, as opposed to the City of Minneapolis’ acquisition of it for the water department, which would bring hundreds of pollution-causing trucks into a neighborhood already saturated with ground and air pollution. Instead we could have environmental justice and a project that will create an estimated one hundred to two hundred jobs. Saving the former Sears Warehouse would be a good opportunity to house lost restaurants and small shops to the riots, in a building that would need little work toward its restoration. But, a city that lost countless buildings to the riots wants to tear it down!

• We are calling for the implementation of the original plan for a streetcar/trolley on the Greenway as soon as possible. It will provide a time-saving mode for inner city residents, without the need of a car, to reach the airport, educational institutions, and malls. But, more importantly, it will make it possible for our residents to access jobs and economic opportunities outside of the city.

• We support Chief Rondo, a Southside Central High School graduate with extraordinary experience in policing and what is needed for change.  

• We support the Mayor’s budget as proposed and pledge to work in partnership with him and the Chief on police reform. We also support the Mayor’s budget with regard to neighborhood organizations. Funding at the neighborhood level allows neighborhood based approaches and solutions to safety and root cause needs.

    East and Midtown Phillips residents who live diversity and were the first neighborhood to welcome with open arms the Islamic Center, have generated and benefitted from more bottom up plans, programs, projects, strategies and movements than can be counted. We have been resisted and our visions and goals have often been disregarded by those who govern, but we persist. And though our businesses and residents have experienced continued victimization, negatively affecting our physical health and well-being, we persist. We are Phillips Strong. Like the Phoenix we will rise!    

Sincerely, Midtown & East Phillips Neighborhood residents

Keep an eye out for the new utility box art in Midtown Phillips!

This past year, Midtown Phillips Neighborhood Association has partnered with community organizations and neighborhood youth to create art for five utility boxes in Midtown Phillips with the theme of “Healthy Connections.” The partnering organizations were Semilla Center for Healing and the Arts, Banyan Community, Waite House, and New American Youth Soccer Club. In the fall of 2019, five artists were chosen by these organizations and youth they serve to work with neighborhood youth and design art for local utility boxes.
Artists chosen were Angela Barerra, Jorge Amerigo, BrieAnna Lindquist, Andres Guzman, and Samie Johnson. Over the winter, the artists met with youth at these organizations and came up with designs interpreting what “Healthy Connections” meant to them. The designs were finalized this past Spring, approved by the Minneapolis Art Commission, and were installed in July. The project was facilitated and coordinated by Bart Buch. Congratulations and thanks to everyone involved!!


The boxes can be found at the intersections of: 

26th St. and Bloomington Ave. S.

26th St. and 12th Ave. S.

24th St. and 11th Ave. S.

26th St. and 10th Ave. S.

28th St. and Chicago Ave. S.


2828 10th Ave S., #1205f
Minneapolis, MN 55407, USA

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