On the Frontlines Against Line 3

During the week of March 8th through 14th, more than 60 members of Extinction Rebellion US from around the country converged in Minnesota in support of Water Protectors and ongoing resistance to stop the Line 3 tar sands pipeline. While there, local newspapers reported sexual assaults on tribal women by Enbridge workers confirming what MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women) had been documenting about the upsurge in violence brought about by man camps. Enbridge workers and law enforcement did not take COVID precautions and could be seen everywhere without masks. The pipeline was clearly on a fast track with the company preparing to drain Indigenous wild rice fields and drill under numerous waterways.

Illegal pullovers, surveillance, and other harassment actions by county Sheriffs, state troopers, and Enbridge security forces were commonplace. Outside one of the Water Protector camps we visited, there was 24/7 surveillance by two to four local sheriff cars at any time. Drivers entering the camps were frequently stopped frivolously with police demanding (and documenting) identification. With the spring thaw turning roads into muddy messes there was an effort to purchase gravel for one of the camps, but the truck delivering the gravel was illegally blocked from making the delivery to the camp by law enforcement. Enbridge has purchased at least $72,000 in riot gear and $10,000 in weapons for police in Minnesota, making clear the connection between state repression and the protection of private capital.

One evening outside the Enbridge office in Park Rapids we saw children and women doing a vigil and stopped to talk with Indigenous Water Protectors who hold weekly vigils. XR-affiliated projectionists from Washington State were projecting a slideshow onto the building, including a spoof on Enbridge’s slogan which now read “Enbridge Takes Life” — a reference not only to how they destroy the forests, ecosystems and waters, but also a recent incident where a pipeline worker was killed during construction. They paused for barely an hour before resuming work.

(The sailboat blocking traffic to an Enbridge construction site on March 12th, 2021. Two members of our affinity group were arrested protecting this boat. Photo credit: Giniw Collective’s Press Release)

While we were in the area, there were multiple non-violent resistance actions by multiple Water Protector camps. Two courageous members who were part of the XRPDX contingent were arrested in a road blockage action where a dozen members of XR from the around the country locked down to a sailboat painted green and decorated with a Protect the Water message. (Watch Giniw Collective’s video of the event on Facebook.) As law enforcement got wind of actions starting shortly after dawn, around 40 police, sheriff, state police, and other law enforcement vehicles from as many as 18 different jurisdictions quickly descended on the area from counties as far as 200 miles away and began widespread harassment of water protector vehicles.

Indigenous leaders have been fighting the Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota for several years, taking every legal action available to them. Enbridge’s construction of this tar sands project endangers the waterways, defiles the land, and contributes to the climate crisis. This pipeline will transport one million barrels of tar sands a day for export—the equivalent of 50 new coal fired plants. In addition to destruction of Canadian boreal forests and toxicity to surrounding Canadian communities and their water sources, it endangers Anishinaabe and other tribal wetlands and rice fields, our own beautiful forests, the headwaters of the Mississippi, and, with scores of river water crossings, is at great risk for spills and leakages, for which the company has a sordid and less than transparent history.

There is no local market need for this pipeline, and it comes at a time when we need to be transitioning to renewable, sustainable clean energy and decreasing, not increasing, carbon emissions. Recently, over 200 water protectors have been arrested fighting this project, and the company is trying to rapidly push it through despite ongoing court challenges.

It was appalling to witness firsthand the levels of illegal state repression and harassment of water protectors in our brief time in the area. Public resources are being used to support the profits and gains of a foreign company at the expense of US citizens, driving the destruction of US and tribal resources with both short term and long- term consequences. Our banks and financial institutions should not be profiting from these horrific projects.

Please stand with the thousands of citizens who are putting pressure on these institutions to defund Line 3 and all tar sands pipelines by going to the Stop the Money Pipeline website for weekly updates and action ideas. In addition, contact Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy and President Joe Biden at the White House. Urge them to put an end to tar sands projects that have no business destroying our resources for the profits of a foreign company and at great expense to our own waters, lands, peoples, and future generations. These injustices must be brought to an end for the sake of Indigenous sovereignty and our beautiful earth. We must support, in every conceivable way, those on the frontlines who possess the courage to protect it.

Giniw Collective suggests contributions to the Protest Center Law and Litigations Line 3 fund.Anchor

About Diana Meisenhelter

Diana Meisenhelter has been involved on the Action Team of XRPDX since January 2019.  She served on the Extinction Rebellion US National Restructure Working Group proposal for a year and a half.  Active in antiracist, social justice, labor, and environmental organizing since the early 1970s, Diana has over 50 years of experience in movements for justice.


Join the Pipeline Apocalypse!

How Pipelines Hide in the Shadow of Genocide