Rising Up to the Heat: ‘Treaty People Gathering’ Resists Line 3 Pipeline

Northern Minnesota – As summer approaches, and the wet season moratorium is over, construction for the new Line 3 tar sands pipeline is ramping back up during early June. This increase in work was expected by water protectors, who made a call-out for activists to gather in Indigenous Anishinaabe territory to escalate protests against the pipeline project to transport diluted bitumen (tar sands + toxic diluent).

The early June gathering is led by Indigenous women and two-spirit people who are highlighting how treaties “protect all of us.”

“We are all treaty people. Non-native people are living on stolen land and continue to benefit from treaties while not honoring them. It is the responsibility of non-native people to know and respect the obligations included in federal and state treaties.”

Treaty People Gathering

We are covering the action happening on June 7 at the Two Inlets pumping station in Northern Minnesota. Around 4:30PM central time police started arresting participants in the action.

The 5-hour video from the first phase of today’s action is here:


A Department of Homeland Security helicopter ‘buzzed’ the demonstrators earlier, a tactic spraying them with rotor wash clouds of dust and debris:


Check out our coverage in the tweet thread below:

If completed, the new Line 3 pipeline will cross over 200 bodies of water including the Mississippi River twice, and may pump over 900,000 barrels of tar sands crude oil a day.

The now-deteriorating original Line 3 pipeline was built in 1968 and runs from Edmonton, Alberta through North Dakota and Minnesota to refineries in Wisconsin. In 1991, Line 3 ruptured and spilled over 1.7 million gallons of oil, the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history.

Since the final permit for the new pipeline was approved in November 2020 by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, more than 200 water protectors have been arrested during resistance actions opposing the massive energy project. While this civil disobedience temporarily halts work on the pipeline, it also taps into Enbridge’s deep pockets because of law enforcement involvement.

Local county sheriffs responding to pipeline protests are being reimbursed via an escrow account funded by Enbridge and administered by state officials. Reimbursements have to be approved by Escrow Account Manager Richard Hart (formerly of the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department and Bloomington Police) as well as Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington. While officials like Aitkin County Sheriff Daniel Guida claim to “not [be] interested in being private security,” the awkward fact remains that law enforcement protects Enbridge work sites from pipeline opponents using enlarged budgets beefed up with Enbridge funds.

So far, “more than $900,000 in Enbridge funding for law enforcement agencies” has been approved via the escrow account, according to documents obtained by The Intercept. Enbridge has also directly donated equipment to local sheriffs, such as cutting tools to dismantle ‘lockbox’ devices protesters may use to attach themselves to equipment.

Law enforcement operations to protect Line 3 construction are being coordinated via the Northern Lights Task Force (NLTF), whose existence Unicorn Riot first reported in 2019. The NLTF routinely holds multi-agency trainings at the Camp Ripley military base in Little Falls, MN, and has consulted with North Dakota sheriffs involved in brutally repressing protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock. The pipeline task force includes 16 Minnesota county sheriffs, as well as various state agencies and the Minnesota National Guard. Credentialing and oversight for the task force is directed by the Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

The resistance to Line 3 isn’t limited to direct action. Several lawsuits against the pipeline have been filed by several area tribes as well as Indigenous and environmental groups. One of the lawsuits is an appeal of the MN Public Utilities Commission’s approval of Enbridge’s Environmental Impact Statement, Certificate of Need, and Routing Permit. The panel of judges at the Minnesota Court of Appeals has not ruled to decide the case yet, but have promised a decision by June 21.

During the state lawsuit hearing on March 23, judges denied a temporary halt on construction while the decision was being worked through—giving Enbridge three months of construction time until they are ordered to stop or given the green light to finish.

Another pending federal lawsuit challenges the Army Corps of Engineers’ permit approval for Line 3 on the grounds that the Corps failed to conduct its own Environmental Impact Study.

Because Enbridge is heating up their construction, water protectors are rising up to resist.

“We will not stand by and watch a fossil fuel corporation line its pockets as so much is destroyed, producing oil we don’t need. . . We will gather in Northern Minnesota to put our bodies on the line, to stop construction and tell the world that the days of tar sands pipelines are over.”

Treaty People Gathering

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