Police Break Up Ceremony and Indigenous-Led #StopLine3 Occupation

St. Paul, MN – Thousands converged on the Minnesota State Capitol grounds on August 25 to demand that construction on the contentious Line 3 tar sands pipeline be stopped. A massive police response greeted the water protectors who held ceremony, set tipis up and attempted to occupy the area after the permitted Treaties Not Tar Sands Rally. On Friday, August 27, after surrounding a tipi, hundreds of State Troopers made arrests, forced the tipi down during ceremony, and forced the removal of sacred fire.

On Wednesday, many attended the large permitted rally where ‘water walkers’ were greeted on the Capitol grounds that lasted until nightfall when hundreds of water protectors occupied the south lawn throughout Wednesday night. Numerous Indigenous elders, elected officials, organizers, activists, and water protectors spoke about their opposition to Line 3.

Unicorn Riot provided live coverage from the Capitol on August 25, starting about an hour after the water walkers arrived.

‘Water (nibi) walkers’ walked 256 miles from from the Mississippi Headwaters during the month of August and arrived at the Capitol on the 25th, culminating in a large gathering. The water walk was to call attention to the harms they say the pipeline will cause on the rivers, lakes, water, and way of life of the Anishinaabe people.

Map of the route that the water walkers took

In total, 14 water walkers walked the full stretch from Northern Minnesota to the Capitol. Hundreds of water protectors joined the walkers at Martin Luther King Park in St. Paul before marching with them for the last leg of the walk to the Capitol. Many wore orange to represent missing and murdered Indigenous children across North America.

A press release from the Resist Line 3 Media Collective stated that “Line 3 violates treaties by threatening water, manoomin, and our climate, leading to the loss of usufructuary and cultural rights.” The release stated the demands of honoring the treaties and stopping Line 3.

We demand action to honor our treaties and stop Line 3. President Biden must revoke Line 3’s Clean Water Act permits to conduct a federal Environmental Impact Statement, rescind Line 3’s Presidential Permit, or commit to other action to stop Line 3 from coming into service.

An enormous police presence surrounded the Capitol along with concrete barriers and fencing around the building and the statues. State Troopers were joined by officers from the Anoka County Sheriffs Office, Washington County Mobile Field Force, DNR conservation officers, Capitol Security and more agencies.

After the sun went down, the crowd was led in ceremony to the south lawn of the Capitol, organizers said this move was made in order to prevent issues with the hundreds of heavily armed police.

On the south lawn, the water walkers lined up and were thanked by a circle of hundreds who walked by each one of them while the ‘nibi song’ was drummed and sung. Unicorn Riot was live when the crowd made the move to the south lawn.

As the night continued to get later, some tents that were set up on the south lawn were quickly ordered to be taken down and removed by State Troopers stating laws against tents and sleeping applied to the area.

As several different groups of water protectors, tribal members, and direct action camps converged on the Capitol, many brought their own actions and held space for different ceremonies.

Indigenous grandmothers from the White Earth Nation held ceremonial space on the Capitol lawn for the whole week of August 23 before closing out on Thursday at 11 a.m.

Over 15 tipis were set up on the Capitol grounds before the crowds gathered. Eventually, all of the tipis were taken down except for one as the permit for them expired at 10 p.m. on Thursday, August 26.

In the one that was left, there was an attempt to hold ceremonial space for 38 days, with each day representing each of the 38 Dakota men hanged near Mankato, Minnesota in 1862, in what was the largest mass execution in American history.

On Thursday night after the permit expired, hundreds of water protectors surrounded and defended the one remaining tipi after the permit expired and as a sacred fire was lit while ceremony was held inside. Negotiations with State Troopers led to the authorities allowing the ceremony to continue through the night as a hard storm rained on the area. Unicorn Riot was live for nearly an hour around midnight Thursday.

Late Friday morning, over a hundred State Troopers surrounded the tipi imploring everyone to leave and forced the ceremony to end. A handful of arrests were made on the tipi defenders.

More negotiations allowed for the tipi to be taken down and the sacred fire to be taken away before the troopers vacated that area of the Capitol grounds.

We have been holding space in ceremony at the Minnesota State Capitol grounds in a stand to protest Line 3 and Enbridge activity on Indigenous soil. Police forcibly removed our lodge this morning in an attempt to halt ceremony. Though police used violence to oppress us, Migizi stood strong and officers left the scene.

Jaike Spotted Wolf, Water protector with Camp Migizi

The next day, hundreds of water protectors unsuccessfully attempted to speak to Minnesota Governor Tim Walz at his residence in St. Paul. Over 50 were arrested by police, some violently.

During the days of actions in St. Paul, there were direct actions happening in Northern Minnesota that were stopping Line 3 construction. On August 26, for the first time in the Western Hemisphere, water protectors deployed an aerial structure made of bamboo and cables in front of the driveway of a Line 3 pump station.

This morning for the first time in the Western Hemisphere, water protectors deployed an aerial structure made of bamboo…

Posted by Unicorn Riot on Thursday, August 26, 2021

Despite plenty of opposition and constant direct actions halting construction, Enbridge’s new Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota is nearing completion.

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