We saw the police violence that occurred at Standing Rock, where Indigenous water protectors and allies were trying to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. We saw the police violence that occurred across the country in response to protests following George Floyd’s murder.
People are concerned about police violence that could occur in northern Minnesota in response to construction of the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands crude oil pipeline. We know there is strong opposition. We know that the state started organizing the “Northern Lights Task Force” in 2018, a coalition of law enforcement agencies preparing for Line 3 protests, including training and stockpiling gear. The Canadian pipeline corporation Enbridge is helping to coordinate communications, resources, and even funding the purchase of policing equipment through the Public Utilities Commission.
Our friends at Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light are circulating a sign-on letter for religious and spiritual leaders to preempt a violent response. Please share this with any religious or spiritual leaders you know.
The letter signers make a commitment to be engaged in this work:
For our part as religious and spiritual leaders, we commit to the ongoing work of holding critical conversations about systemic racism in every one of our faith communities. We commit to speaking out publicly about police brutality and demand the protection of human rights for Indigenous communities who oppose the pipeline. The entrenched evil of racism in this country is a spiritual crisis that will not be solved overnight. We must call forth the world of justice that our spiritual traditions promise us is possible. We pray that you join us in this work, for the healing we all so urgently need.
The letter signers called on the following state leaders to take specific action: Gov. Tim Walz, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Herrington, Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero, and the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Chair Katie Sieben:
Gov. Walz and Lt. Gov. Flanagan, we call you to take leadership to ensure all state responses to protests adhere to your own Executive Order 13-10, which mandates a process of tribal consultation for each of your agencies whose work intersects with sovereign tribal nations.
Commissioner Harrington, the Department of Public Safety must ensure that Enbridge cannot influence state public safety decisions. We ask that when deciding police protocol for use-of-force, you make your decision-making process transparent to the public.
Commissioner Lucero, we call you to prepare on-the-ground human-rights observers as actively as Enbridge and the state and local law enforcement agencies seem to be preparing law enforcement to escalate violence. We need more than a civil rights investigation after the fact; we also need proactive protection of human rights.
Commissioner Sieben, we call on you to transparently define the criteria for— and limits on— funding for law enforcement via the “Public Safety Escrow Trust” in the Route Permit for Line 3, to be in explicit accordance with international human rights standards regarding use of police force.
Click on this link for the full letter.