Minnesota – Unicorn Riot has uncovered documents showing coordination between state-wide authorities to prepare for anti-pipeline protests. Emails obtained from Minnesota State Patrol under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act show close cooperation between state and local law enforcement, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, pipeline company security staff and a private police foundation.
One such email, dated June 18, 2018, shows discussion about a “table top” exercise located at Camp Ripley, a military base operated by the Minnesota National Guard which also hosts trainings for the Minnesota State Patrol. The email states the exercise “relates to MFF [Mobile Field Force] and the Line 3.” Line 3 is a controversial pipeline project proposed by Canadian oil giant Enbridge, and has been the focus of years of protests by indigenous tribes and environmental activists
Another correspondence entitled “Line 3 Protest” describes continued monitoring of anti-pipeline social media pages on Facebook by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) Fusion Center Director of Criminal Information and Analysis. The BCA operates Minnesota’s primary fusion center, part of a national network created after 9/11 to share intelligence between state, local, and federal authorities as well as private corporations.
Further emails obtained by Unicorn Riot show communication between the Minnesota State Patrol and Department of Public Safety about Line 3 protests outside Governor Mark Dayton’s residence. The email describes the Governor’s plans to remain at a hotel in St. Paul, Minnesota, as protesters descended on his residence.
The emails go on to detail a “Pipeline Planning” event about Line 3 at the Sanford Center in Bemidji, Minnesota. The email describes a “planning and response” meeting between sheriffs, police chiefs, attorneys, the BCA, Minnesota State Patrol, hospital/EMS leaders, as well as “other stakeholders.”
In the last communication, the Chief Security Officer for Enbridge, Colleen Galenzoski, who also claims to be an Associate Member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), emails Colonel Matt Langer, Chief of the Minnesota State Patrol. In the email, the Enbridge security officer requests to meet with the Minnesota State Patrol to discuss the “Line 3 pipeline project.”
Law enforcement associations such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) recently played a key role in crushing mass protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Years earlier, a nationwide police effort to dismantle all protest camps associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement was coordinated through entities like IACP and the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF.) IACP, PERF, and NSA are all private nonprofit organizations, meaning that despite these groups being used by public officials to plan government actions, they are not subject to public records laws and have no legal obligation to transparency.
Enbridge Chief Security Officer Colleen Galenzoski’s membership in the police chiefs’ association also echoes the close relationships between Dakota Access Pipeline security contractors and the National Sheriffs Association during operations to protect pipeline construction in North Dakota in 2016 and 2017. TigerSwan, a private military contractor hired by the Dakota Access Pipeline to surveil and disrupt anti-pipeline protests, had been listed as a ‘corporate partner’ on the National Sheriff Association’s website, although the listing appears to have since been removed. TigerSwan still lists the National Sheriff Association on the ‘Associations‘ page on their own site.
In April of 2017, just months after protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline ended, the Sheriffs’ Association convened a meeting with law enforcement from across the country to discuss using Mobile Field Force units to quell protests against future pipeline projects. Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier and Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney have given numerous seminars advising other law enforcement officials on the importance of departments training in Mobile Field Force tactics.
In fall of 2016, Unicorn Riot obtained a federal training manual, titled “Field Force Operations“, from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP). FEMA’s CDP is used to train local law enforcement units in MFF techniques for quelling protests, including combining units from multiple jurisdictions for larger joint sweeps, as seen at Standing Rock.
According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM), Mobile Field Forces (MFF) are units specifically “trained and equipped to deal with crowd control/civil disobedience incidents.” MFF squads, platoons, and/or divisions are called into action by police officials to meet the “needs of the incident.” High profile deployments of MFF units in recent years have included protests in Ferguson, the 2009 G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, and the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.
MFF units are trained in the deployment of “less-lethal” and chemical munitions, and are usually accompanied with Bearcat armored vehicles, Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected or ‘MRAP‘ vehicles, and Long Rang Acoustic Device (LRAD) sound weapons which can damage hearing.
“MFF line troopers are equipped with helmets, gas masks, riot batons, and body protection. MFF troopers are trained to perform all functions in a normal or gas environment which includes moving, restricting and separating crowds; providing site security; providing motorcade security; and providing conventional police patrol/enforcement, on foot or mechanized, in civil disturbance areas.” – Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM)
During anti-pipeline protests in Standing Rock, Mobile Field Force units were deployed under an “Emergency Management Assistance Compact” (EMAC), a national state-to-state mutual aid mechanism which allows for sharing personnel and/or equipment between state agencies if an emergency is declared by a state Governor.
As tensions escalated in North Dakota, MFF units loaned from other states under EMAC were used on multiple occasions to violently repress the #NoDAPL movement. Mobile Field Force units mass-arrested entire crowds, evicted indigenous encampments at gun-point, and assaulted protesters on the Highway 1806 bridge on November, 2016, shooting people in the face with rubber bullets and hosing them down with water in below-freezing temperatures, causing many serious injuries.
On Monday, October 22, the Duluth City Council approved thousands of dollars for the Duluth Police Department to purchase riot gear for their officers in anticipation of violent confrontation with protesters attempting to stop construction of the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline. Just before the decision was made, dozens of demonstrators wearing masks entered the city council meeting and interrupted the vote. Protestors held signs, banners, and chanted “no riot gear for the DPD.”
“When we talk about introducing equipment that militarizes the police and creates potentially an enemy combatant dynamic between police and the citizens” – Duluth NAACP Criminal Justice Committee Chair Erin Kreeger
Activists working to stop Line 3 expect construction to begin as early as this winter. The Enbridge Line 3 pipeline project received approval from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission this last summer. Hours later, protesters held a press conference stating:
“Minnesota and Enbridge have asked us if this is gonna be like Standing Rock. And they have gotten their Standing Rock…It is time to come to Minnesota to protect the water.” – Winona LaDuke
Research contributed by Chris Schiano and Dan Feidt, Unicorn Riot
Unicorn Riot's Line 3 Oil Pipeline Coverage:
- Direct Action Ramps Up Resistance to Line 3 - Sept. 18, 2017
- Resistance to Line 3 Pipeline Seeks to Save Sacred Manoomin - Oct. 9, 2017
- Rally Against Line 3 Minnesota Pipe Yards - Dec. 11, 2017
- Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Requests Line 3 Schedule Change - Jan. 10, 2018
- Interfaith Community Delivers Letter of Line 3 Opposition to Minnesota Government Offices - June 4, 2018
- As Line 3 Oil Pipeline Decision Looms, Indigenous Resistance Increases - June 26, 2018
- Line 3 Oil Pipeline Approved By Minnesota Regulators - June 28, 2018
- Judge Accepts Water Protectors’ Climate Change Necessity Defense - July 18, 2018
- Minnesota Police Train at Military Base as Line 3 Pipeline Protests Escalate - Oct 25, 2018
- Arts, Culture, and Hip Hop Resist Line 3 as Lawsuits Against Approval Continue - Dec 29, 2018
- ‘Valve Turners’ Shut Down Enbridge Oil Pipelines in Minnesota - Feb 4, 2019
- Multi-Agency Task Force Prepares “Rules of Engagement” For Line 3 Protests - Feb 11, 2019
- Direct Action in Minnesota as Line 3 Pipeline Approval Reversed - June 3, 2019
- Hundreds Rally in Opposition to Line 3 Tar Sands Pipeline in Minnesota
- March to Protect The Sacred on Indigenous People’s Day 2019 - Oct 14, 2019
- “Divest from Climate Change!” Chase Bank Branch Protested on Opening Day - Nov 7, 2019
- Protests After Permits for Line 3 Oil Pipeline Approved - Nov 17, 2020
- Enbridge Line 3 Construction Blocked by Activists in Northern Minnesota - Nov 18, 2020
Unicorn Riot also covered confidential large-scale planning around the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
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Written by Andrew Neef