(Anishinaabe Akiing, Minnesota) Today, defendants arrested while opposing the construction of Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands pipeline launched a campaign calling on Minnesota’s elected leadership to drop all criminal charges against over 700 water protectors. A Drop the Charges petition to MN Governor Tim Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison has already garnered over 13,000 signatures. Organizers of the campaign describe the charges as unjust based on the brutal policing tactics that the Enbridge corporation directly funded, the violation of Anishinaabe treaty rights, and the project’s contribution to catastrophic climate change.
Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth, said about the campaign launch, “It’s entirely wrong that Enbridge—a foreign oil corporation— has committed egregious crimes against the water and people, yet it’s us who are being prosecuted. Every day that pipeline is in operation, Minnesotans are in danger. It must be shut down, and all charges against Water Protectors must be dropped. ”
Over 1,000 arrests were made during the nine months of construction, and over 100 water protectors have been charged with trumped up felonies, with most of the felonies being bogus “theft” charges. The Canadian energy transportation corporation, Enbridge, funded and collaborated with the police force in northern Minnesota, and has so far paid police nearly $3 million for costs associated with arresting and surveilling water protectors, including recent news of Aitkin County Sheriff billing 4,800 hours to Enbridge.
Water Protectors defending treaty rights argue that they were upholding the supreme law of the land by resisting Line 3 and should not be prosecuted. The pipeline crosses the 1854, 1855, and 1867 treaty territories of the Anishinaabe and endangers the water and wild rice. The pipeline was built without the consent of all tribal nations and violates these treaties. Water Protectors also cite the environmental destruction caused by Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline as justification for their actions. Line 3 will result in more carbon emissions than the entire state of Minnesota currently produces, equivalent to building 50 new coal-fired power plants. Enbridge’s track record includes the largest inland oil spill in US history, a recent $3.2 million fine from the MN Department of Natural Resources for violating environmental laws during Line 3 construction, and over 800 spills in the last 15 years.