Protesters overflow from Line 3 site near Park Rapids

According to a press release on behalf of the Giniw Collective, an environmental protection group led by indigenous women, construction was halted because an indigenous matriarch locked herself in a piece of heavy equipment and the executive director of Rainforest Action Network was in danger of being shut down.

Complaining that Enbridge Energy was drilling under more than 20 rivers and 800 wetlands in Anishinaabe Treaty territory, Giniw’s statement claimed that a dozen people were arrested while law enforcement in Hubbard County were operating a riot line at the entrance to Namewag Camp near Hinds Lake.

“This pipeline is a violent assault on Indigenous peoples and their treaty rights and a climate catastrophe that threatens us all,” said Ginger Cassady, Executive Director of Rainforest Action Network (RAN). She urged the pres. Joe Biden and the U.S. banking system withdraw funding for the Line 3 replacement project.

The June 1 press release stated that a water protector had been arrested by the police as he was leaving the camp on suspicion of having “violated the easement”.

The Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office had previously issued a notice that said vehicles were moving through the camp via a non-vehicular trail crossing land owned by the county. County officials said last week that there are currently no road easements on the property from that direction, although it is accessible by road from another direction and on foot.

In a follow-up statement on June 2, the Giniw Collective claimed that Hubbard County “refused to honor the traditional 10% cash bond option, instead demanding $ 5,000 in conditional bond and $ 10,000. dollars of unconditional bail for release ”.

“The world needs to pay attention to what’s going on here in Minnesota right now,” said Laurel Sutherlin, RAN staff member, citing the link between fossil fuels and climate change. “This is urgent. This is why we are putting our bodies at risk to help local leaders stop construction.”

Sutherlin called the actions of the sheriff’s office “powerful and violent tactics” and accused the banks that support the project of being “complicit in physical abuse, violation of rights and the climate catastrophe that will last for generations.”

In response to Giniw’s release, Hubbard County Sheriff Cory Aukes said he was forced to use resources that should not have been needed.

“The amount spent on the equipment used to extract the water protectors from the device they use to lock to the pipe equipment,” he said. “The extra hours spent on your assistants’ time needed to make arrests and deal with crime scenes.” Considerable prison staff time was required to process the nearly 300 people who were arrested. “

He concluded, “If these water protectors were truly peaceful and law-abiding, as they claimed, we wouldn’t have had any to do with all of this.

Aukes disagreed with what he described as the claim by Indigenous protesters that the 1855 US treaty with the Chippewa Nation means that the laws do not apply to them. “Nowhere in the treaty of 1855 is there language that allows the Chippewa Indians to commit crimes,” he said. “I don’t take race into consideration when applying the laws in this county.”

Aukes said crimes committed by water protectors included assault, destroying hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment and driving vehicles on closed trails, adding that he would apply those laws also to non- indigenous.

Aukes also pointed out that the Texas-based Switchboard Trainers Network, which owns the Namewag camp previously owned by Winona LaDuke, calls itself a “direct action trainers network” which teaches “non-cooperation with the police “and is affiliated with an anarchist movement. .

Aukes alleged that most of those arrested in the camp were from other states and that the owners of the property were not present. He also pointed out that homeowners could apply for an easement, like LaDuke did when she owned the property, but they didn’t.

The sheriff defended his decision to enforce the county ordinance closing the trail on the property, saying, “I choose to treat people of all races the same because it’s not about of race. It is a matter of public safety. “

Aukes also took issue with camp management’s assertion that the sheriff’s coercive action closed access to the 80-acre property, noting that one township road, Big Buck Drive, borders it on the other. side.

According to Aukes, the water guards have been arrested 20, 30 or even 180 at a time, but they usually spend a night in jail and are treated like any other person arrested.

Responding to a camp leader who complained about being strip searched at the prison, Aukes said it was standard procedure for inmates to remove their clothes and put on prison clothes.

“What is amazing to me,” said Aukes, “is the process after an arrest.… Time after time a protester makes a phone call and someone shows up with a gym bag full of money for bail them out. A bag full of $ 100 bills, actually $ 52,000 at one time. That’s a lot of money to carry in a gym bag.

Aukes said someone recently walked into the law enforcement center and paid cash to bail out 18 people, each on bail of $ 5,000 to $ 10,000. “They are obviously well funded,” he said.

Aukes has denied allegations that the sheriff’s office receives direct payments from Enbridge. “We are not their ‘private security’,” he said. “We are responding to incidents reported at Enbridge sites, yes. As we would anyone in Hubbard County.

Aukes said the Public Utilities Commission has demanded that Enbridge deposit money in an escrow account to reimburse local institutions for expenses related to the pipeline. “I will ask for reimbursement of our expenses,” he said. “I’m not ashamed of it. Why should our taxpayers be struggling with hundreds of thousands of dollars in spending? … Enbridge should be responsible for these costs, and they are.

About Keith Tatum

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