Fusing art and environmental justice

Last week, music and environmental justice were brought together in a stellar way. The local Minneapolis band Poliça used their music and passion to elevate the problem of lead poisoning and put Northern Metals (NMR) on display for all of Minneapolis to hear and see.


Northern Metals Recycling (NMR) is a metal shredding recycler that has been cited numerous times for exceeding air quality ambient standards of the heavy metals like lead, chromium, nickel and cobalt. These violations have been known, but because of many years of community pressure, outrage and demands, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has finally moved to revoke the permit of NMR, and we fully support this legal action.


The night started with a march for Clean Air Equity across Lowry Avenue bridge, carrying printed and created signs with messages of “Danger Lead Air,” “We Have the Right to Breathe” and “Everyone Deserves Clean Air”; along with beautifully crafted artistic expressions of how polluted air impacts our health and environment.


Along with a coalition of neighbors from across the Twin Cities, including the group the Eastsiders Environmental Quality of Life, we walked in solidarity to raise awareness of the polluted air in North and Northeast Minneapolis. By utilizing art and activism we were able to bring this issue of air quality to the streets and into our neighbors' backyards. We marched across Lowry Bridge, over to the Northeast side where we gathered in neighbor Philip Harder's backyard facing the Mississippi River, where Poliça played right out on the water, with light projections of statements and figures that lit up Northern Metals in the background.


The connection of activism and art is paramount in movement building. Music, visual and creative arts speaks to issues in an universal language, for it gives power to the feelings that any person can interpret. It is so important to have artistic voices in the movement for racial justice, for these voices carry the message and touch more people than any meeting or email. Having art and music integrated with the campaign of environmental justice is significant, and how awesome to have Poliça help to spread the word, with the special guest of P.O.S too! NOC is very lucky to have lead singer Channy Leaneagh as a member of the environmental justice core team and bring her voice and her presence to this work.  We’re excited to keep finding creative ways to bring art and music into our environmental justice campaigns as we fight for the total shutdown of Northern Metals and the HERC incinerator.


The next court date in the Northern Metals shutdown process is October 4. Join us!

Tuesday October 4th, 10:00AM

The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH)

600 Robert Street North, St. Paul, MN 55101.

We will be outside at 9:00AM to make a visual presence of what the communities of North and Northeast Minneapolis have been dealing with, and to thank the MPCA for pursuing NMR and make sure that they win! Join us.

Tweet at #dangerleadair to keep the conversation going! You can also email janiece@mnnoc.org to get involved and help plan our next event.


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