Early Wednesday morning water protectors from Camp Makwa stormed an Enbridge construction site, and delayed progress on the last unfinished Wisconsin segment of their proposed line 3 pipeline project. One individual from the Diné Nation descended into the muddy trench, climbed onto the pipe, and locked himself to welding equipment. A Leech Lake Tribal member then climbed atop an excavator and attached himself to a hydraulic arm. Construction was halted for approximately six hours, costing the company thousands of dollars, as the individuals put their bodies on the line to protect the water and the futures of their children.
Later in the day two more water protectors were arrested, while standing on the side of the public road. They were both tackled to the ground by Sergeant Kirchhoff of the Superior Police Department. For one of the arrests, when asked on what grounds he was acting, officer Kirchhoff cited a warrant that he could not produce. Later investigation found that the warrant he cited was unsigned and improperly filed. Last Week Sergeant Kirchhoff received media attention for tackling a woman to the ground without warning at a similar protest. The woman’s charges were later dropped.
The Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project is estimated to carry almost one million barrels of tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to Superior, Wisconsin; Enbridge has received approval in Wisconsin, but has not received approval in Minnesota, which would be the largest segment of the proposed project. The non-violent direct action came after a week of evidentiary hearings in Minnesota, where Enbridge revealed that it had already paid for 100% of the pipe for the project. The same day as the action it was discovered that before her time in public office Judge Ann C O’Reilly, the individual in charge of holding public hearings on the Line 3 Project, worked for a firm that represented oil companies on multiple occasions.
One water protector stated “Enbridge doesn’t have their permits for Minnesota and they have already started chopping trees down for their easement and filling its pipe storage yards. We went to the public hearings and found them full to the brim with Enbridge employees who were paid to be there. We fought again and again just to have 3 minutes to speak. Now we watch as truck after truck come into our communities carrying pipes and out of state pipeline workers. We made our comments, but they didn’t listen. The project is already bringing violence to our land and our women and children. We know that with these man camps comes increased levels of drugs, rape, and missing and murdered indigenous women. Enbridge will not take no for an answer so we have to stop them. We want to make clear in no uncertain terms, Enbridge is not welcome in Minnesota.”