Indigenous water protectors are seeking an emergency Temporary Restraining Order against the Hubbard County Sheriff. It’s in response to a months-long campaign by the Sheriff’s Office of unlawful harassment, arrests, and efforts to block property access, they say.
This law enforcement response didn’t come out of nowhere, it’s been in the works for years. Enbridge and law enforcement have worked hand-in-hand to plan their response to Line 3 resistance. Enbridge is indirectly funding law enforcement’s Line 3 responses, buying law enforcement good will.
Tara Houska, Winona LaDuke and other water protectors filed the restraining order against Hubbard County, Sheriff Cory Aukes, and the local land commissioner in northern Minnesota, according to a statement from EarthRights.
The Hubbard County Sheriff has “unlawfully blockaded” camp access, the media release said. The camp is a “convergence space and home for Indigenous-led organizing.” It’s dedicated to “decolonization and treaty rights trainings,” and efforts “to defend the untouched wetlands and the treaty territory of Anishinaabe people.”
In June, the Sheriff’s department, with no notice, arrived with squad cars, riot lines of police and blockaded the only means of entry and exit to the camp, a driveway that has been in existence for more than 50 years. It has issued numerous citations and violently arrested persons seeking to use the driveway to bring food and water to the camp. This blockade is an escalation of a months-long unlawful campaign of harassment, arrests, disruption, surveillance, and baseless pullovers of Indigenous water protectors and land defenders and their allies who oppose the Line 3 pipeline expansion.EarthRight’s media release
Tara Hauska, founder of the Giniw Collective called the Hubbard County Sheriff Department’s actions “obscene,” in the media release.
They arrested 12 people, violently in some cases. Being thrown into the dirt of our driveway and cuffed is a gross abuse of power that sets a dangerous precedent for all private landowners. At one point, there were almost 50 squad cars on the dirt road in front of our home, sheriffs in the woods, sheriffs pushing forward in our driveway — I prepared myself to go into our sweat lodge, next to our gardens, and be dragged out that way. Nobody should ever have to do that.Tara Hauska
In related news, six water protectors were arrested on Tuesday morning, July 6, for trying to delay Line 3 construction at the Willow River. Instead of the customary one night in jail, the six individuals were held until Thursday morning.
Besides the arrests, law enforcement unlawfully detained one water protector while towing his car from the side of a public road that did not have any posted no parking signs. Three vehicles were towed and the towing company … (Wyatt’s towing) reported that the Aitkin Country Sheriffs had ordered them to double the usual towing fees to $450 each.Line 3 Media Collective
How did we get here?
For starters, the state created the Northern Lights Task Force in 2018 to plan for Line 3 resistance. The Task Force “coordinated resources and communication between police … and Enbridge, prepared responses, and facilitated civil disturbance training for hundreds of officers,” according to a 2019 report by Unicorn Riot.
Second, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) required Enbridge to reimburse law enforcement agencies for their Line 3-related work. It created a Public Safety Escrow Account managed by a third party. Everyone knows it’s Enbridge money. So far, Enbridge reimbursements to law enforcement have topped $1 million, The Intercept reported.
As one example of law enforcement misconduct, people have tried to lawfully monitor and document pipeline construction from public right of ways. Enbridge workers apparently just call 9-1-1 because law enforcement tends to shows up right away, even when nothing illegal has happened.
It’s billable hours for law enforcement. It’s intimidating for the citizen.
The PUC’s Line 3 Route Permit seemed to anticipate these things could happen. It told Enbridge:
At all times during the term of this permit the Permittee, the Permittee’s contractors and assigns shall respect the rights of the public to legally exercise their Constitutional rights without interference by the Permittee unless determined to be a public safety concern. The Permittee, the Permittee’s contractors and assigns will not participate in counterinsurgency tactics or misinformation campaigns to interfere with the rights of the public to legally exercise their Constitutional rights.Line 3 Route Permit
These are good-sounding but empty words. The PUC didn’t define what “counterinsurgency tactics” are, nor did it explain how anyone could enforce the permit language.
The Intercept recently ran a piece looking the cozy relationship between Enbridge and law enforcement and exploring the issue of corporate counterinsurgency and Line 3
Alleen Brown, an investigative reporter, said Minnesota’s Line 3 response bears the “hallmarks of corporate counterinsurgency.”
Simon Granovsky-Larsen of the University of Regina in Canada has written about corporate counter insurgency. He told The Intercept it’s about social control — controlling a population so that they don’t oppose the objectives the corporation wants to carrying out.
Enbridge’s counterinsurgency has included co-opting law enforcement and regulatory agencies, getting favorable action at the legislature, PR campaigns, and company-funded “grass roots” support.
Read The Intercept’s story, which offers details. Here’s one example:
Police and Enbridge officials were communicating regularly in the year leading up to the final construction permit’s approval. As construction got underway, officials began “meeting daily with Enbridge,” at the Northern Lights Task Force’s Duluth, Minnesota, operation center. In at least one county, the corporate-police meetings happened “several times daily,” according to public records.Alleen Brown, The Intercept
Perhaps most disturbing is that law enforcement has no training, understanding, or sense of obligation to honor treaty rights. Article VI of the U.S. Constitution says treaties are the supreme law of the land. They take precedence over state and federal laws and permits, like the permits Enbridge received for Line 3. Local law enforcement should care about treaty rights.
Enbridge says the Anishinaabe and their allies are trespassing on critical infrastructure. The Anishinaabe people say Enbridge is trespassing and violating their treaty rights.
The result: Law enforcement sides with a foreign corporation to harass and arrest water protectors with absolutely no understanding of Anishinaabe treaty rights to hunt, fish, gather and occupy lands they ceded to the U.S. government.