A version of the following was originally published as a press release at nlg.org issued June 9, 2021.
On June 7th and 8th, the Treaty People Gathering as part of the Indigenous-led movement to stop Line 3, shut down work at an active Line 3 pump station near the Mississippi headwaters. Thousands of people from across the country gathered together in northern Minnesota to stop Enbridge’s work on its destructive “replacement” pipeline in Anishinaabe territory. Enbridge plans to destroy thousands of sites that are sacred to the Indigenous people who have lived there for thousands of years—including drilling under 22 rivers, over 800 wetlands, and many wild rice tributaries. Approximately 200 activists dedicated to protecting land and water were arrested protesting Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline expansion project, and charged with trespassing on critical infrastructure, an increasingly common tactic used to suppress environmental activism. Volunteers from the Pipeline Legal Action Network, including the National Lawyers Guild and NLG-Minnesota Chapter; Civil Liberties Defense Center; and Water Protector Legal Collective, are on the ground to provide legal support that includes Legal Observers, jail support, and representation.
During the Gathering, law enforcement unsuccessfully engaged in shameful tactics in attempts to quash it: On June 7th, a Department of Homeland Security helicopter intentionally flew at dangerously low levels above water protectors, engulfing them in clouds of dust and debris. Hours later, police used a Long Range Acoustic Device (or “LRAD”), a military-grade speaker, to issue dispersal orders.
There are serious concerns about the treatment of organizers and activists who have been held for 16 – 20 hours without being booked: people are being denied prescription medications, people with injuries incurred during arrest are being denied medical attention despite multiple requests for aid, and there have been multiple violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act. In Kandiyohi County Jail, water protectors are being denied their 6th Amendment right to speak to an attorney, resulting in friends and family members being denied the ability to check in on the health and wellbeing of loved ones.
While arrested in Hubbard County, the majority of arrestees have been transferred to Aitkin County, Kandiyohi County, Douglas County, Pine County, Todd County & Becker County. These counties are part of the 16-county Northern Lights Task Force, which has received significant funding from the Enbridge Corporation. To date, Enbridge has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars for weapons to suppress the public’s right to express righteous anger at a system that prioritizes corporate profit over the public interest and the environment.
“We have very few options left. We are here to protect the water, the wild rice and the next seven generations of life. Keystone XL was stopped on the merits of environmental justice and treaty rights, this is no different. We demand President Biden take action now,” said Simone Senogles of the Indigenous Environmental Network and RISE Coalition in a statement issued by the Treaty People Gathering.
The efforts to stop Line 3 are far from over. To learn more and take action, visit www.stopline3.org/take-action.