The Northern Lights Task Force said Wednesday a total of 179 people were booked into area detention centers and 68 more were issued citations after the series of protests along the Line 3 route Monday.
“When the NLTF started to see comments on social media that there was a goal of forcing a confrontation with law enforcement, resulting in the arrest of 1,000 people, plans were made for the possibility of mass arrests,” said the task force made up of several law enforcement agencies across northern Minnesota.
On Monday, the day of the protest called the Treaty People Gathering, the NLTF announced a helicopter from U.S. Customs and Border Protection was brought in to give dispersal orders to the crowd gathered at various points along the Line 3 route near Park Rapids.
“Unforeseen to local law enforcement and due to the extremely dry conditions, dust kicked up in the area,” said the Monday NLTF announcement. That statement said the helicopter stopped flying so low when staff realized what was happening.
An MPR News reporter was on the scene and the video showed the helicopter performing multiple low-flying maneuvers.
DHS/Border Patrol is using helicopter rotor wash to try to clear out activists out from an occupied #Line3 pump station north of Park Rapids. More than 24 activists are locked down to equipment inside. @MPRnews pic.twitter.com/ArTN6FAqwC
— Evan Frost (@efrostee) June 7, 2021
Grand Forks Customs and Border Patrol is investigating the actions of this helicopter crew, according to a CBP statement.
The protesters were charged with misdemeanor offenses, such as interfering with critical infrastructure, trespass, and illegal assembly.
Featured image: Law enforcement works to cut away the bonds the self-proclaimed water protectors used to chain themselves to equipment at a Line 3 pump station. Courtesy of the Northern Lights Task Force.