Featured photo: Protest activity at an Aitkin County road used by Line 3 workers. Photo submitted by Giniw Collective.
The Northern Lights Task Force sent two different releases relating to protest activity along the Line 3 route in northern Minnesota Wednesday.
On Wednesday morning, officers in St. Louis County responded to a report that Line 3 protesters blocked a road in rural St. Louis County.
The road, Robinson Road to Hedbom Forest Road, is used by workers to access the Line 3 pipeline project.
Upon arrival, officers discovered that an overturned car had been placed in the middle of the road, with two men locking themselves to devices on the underside of the vehicle. Twenty others were present.
The larger group complied with directions to disperse, but the two men attached to the vehicle were ultimately arrested, facing charges of obstruction, unlawful assembly and blocking traffic.
The two arrested were both from out of state.
Twenty-eight-year-old Danny LeClaire, in a release from the Giniw Collective, is from the Shoshone-Bannock tribe in Washington.
Twenty-seven-year-old Micah Lee Carpenter-Lott is from Wyoming.
“As a tribal citizen from an ‘oil and gas tribe,’ I know we are not devoid from the societal norms that prioritizes profit over the planet. For generations, multinational corporations have douped us all with their hush money. No more. We are waking up. Our silence will not be bought,” said one protester identified as “Big Wind” of the Northern Arapaho tribe in a release.
The Northern Lights Task Force says the road was not damaged except for a small amount of oil spilled when suspects overturned the vehicle.
In another incident in Aitkin County, one protester climbed a bipod ascending 40 feet in the air Wednesday morning, blocking the Hedbom Forest Road on the other side of the St. Louis County site.
The device, according to the Northern Lights Task Force, was constructed of two logs, anchored with ropes and posts.
After about four hours, the protester self-identified as “Rose” but legally known as 34-year-old Rachel Leaf of Minneapolis, was safely removed from the bipod and arrested, facing a series of misdemeanor charges.
“I want to live in a world where we are deeply connected to the land and the water. Line 3 is a disease of greed and destruction. I am taking a risk as an act of love for the forest, the wetlands, the rivers and the lakes I grew up with. I am proud to stand with those Indigenous to this land who are fighting for all of our futures,” said Leaf in a release issued by Giniw Collective.
“The Northern Lights Task Force is comprised of numerous law enforcement agencies throughout northern Minnesota. This task force is strongly supported by State agencies along with fire and EMS agencies within each county. The mission statement for the task force is: ‘To provide a safe environment that protects life, property, and free speech through a respectful approach by well trained, disciplined peace officers relating to the lawful activities conducted by those who wish to exercise their First Amendment rights in Minnesota,'” said NLTF in their press releases.
“Giniw Collective is a grassroots, frontlines effort led by indigenous women to protect the sacred and empower the next generation of leadership with traditional values. We are an encampment focused on direct action trainings, community outreach and education, supporting and engaging in traditional lifeways and cultural teachings, and relationship-building within the broader movement against fossil fuels and structural racism into a better way of life,” said Giniw Collective in their “About” section on Facebook.