Two Line 3 workers arrested for soliciting sex as part of human trafficking sting

The Duluth News Tribune reported Tuesday that two of the seven people arrested in a northern Minnesota human trafficking sting were Enbridge Line 3 workers, “fueling concern that construction of the oil pipeline is bringing a higher risk of sex crimes to the area.”

Arrested were:

  • Michael Kelly West, 53, of Rolla, Missouri, who was charged with one count of carrying a pistol without a permit and one count of solicitation to engage in prostitution.
  • Matthew Ty Hall, 33, of Mount Pleasant, Texas, who was charged with one count of solicitation of a person believed to be a minor.

The sting involved web ads that engaged potential customers in sex-for-money conversations, the story said. Perhaps of most concern, West told arresting officers he heard about the ads “from rumors at work.”

That means this isn’t an isolated incident; other workers are talking about it.

[Update: StarTribune story here.]

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News and Events: MMIW virtual events, Migizi gets new digs, Line 3 frontline fundraisesr and more

In this blog:

  • MMIW virtual events Feb. 11-14 (instead of the annual Feb. 14 march)
  • Film screening to fight Fossil Fuels – Necessity: Oil, Water, and Climate Resistance, a two-week long fundraiser for Line 3 frontline resistance (Feb. 5-21)
  • Workshops on Parallel Trauma and Line 3, Feb. 8-10
  • Latest round of Line 3 law enforcement bills under $4,000
  • Miigizi gets news digs!
  • New info graphic: Map the Blake Snake
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To stay current on Line 3, follow Indigenous social media

State issues MMIW report, and other new and events

In this blog:

  • List of Indigenous social media links to stay current on Enbridge Line 3 resistance
  • Fundraiser for Indigenous media makers covering front-line Line 3 resistance
  • First report from Minnesota’s MMIW Task Force
  • Jesuits return 525 acres to Rosebud
  • Cleveland baseball team to change its name, just not right away
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News: MN gets federal office for MMIW cold cases; ski resort changes name derogatory to Native women, and more

In this blog:

  • Feds to open seven cold case units to investigate Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, including one in Minnesota
  • California ski resort says it will changes its name, which was derogatory to Native women
  • Oglala Sioux Tribe declares state of emergency in response to suicides
  • RNC passes resolution backing Columbus Day
  • From the files of “Really crazy things federal law enforcement does”

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Environmental groups are embracing racial justice as central to their work

The environmental movement has been evolving for a century; in its latest advancement, some environmental groups are taking on racial justice as essential to their mission.

The environmental movement encompasses a broad sweep of organizations and strategies, but even a mainstream group such as the Sierra Club is centering racial justice. A recent article by Hop Hopkins, the Sierra Club’s national director of strategic partnership, put it this way:

I really believe in my heart of hearts—after a lifetime of thinking and talking about these issues—that we will never survive the climate crisis without ending white supremacy.

Here’s why: You can’t have climate change without sacrifice zones, and you can’t have sacrifice zones without disposable people, and you can’t have disposable people without racism.

We’re in this global environmental mess because we have declared parts of our planet to be disposable. The watersheds where we frack the earth to extract gas are considered disposable. The neighborhoods near where I live in Los Angeles, surrounded by urban oilfields, are considered disposable. The very atmosphere is considered disposable. When we pollute the hell out of a place, that’s a way of saying that the place—and the people and all the other life that calls that place home—are of no value.

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News and Events: MMIW March fundraiser, pipeline updates and more

In this blog:

  • Minneapolis MMIW March fund raiser Saturday, Feb. 8, 5-7 p.m.
  • Pipeline updates: “A Giant Step Backwards” report and citizen pipeline monitors
  • Federal legislative updates: Indigenous languages preservation act renewed, Little Shell Tribe gets recognition
  • Indian Country Today blasts San Francisco, Kansas City championship game as the “Genocide Bowl”

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MMIW Task Force seeks public comments, the opiod crisis for Native Americans in Minnesota, and more

In this blog:

  • Public comments sought for Minnesota’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Task Force
  • MPR: ‘How can we prevent the heart from breaking?’ White Earth reviews opioid overdose deaths
  • Do businesses see stopping pipeline oil spills as a moral imperative, or are spills just an inexpensive cost of doing business?

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United Methodist Church returns Ohio church lands to the Wyandottes, and other news and events

In this blog:

  • United Methodist Church returns Ohio church lands to the Wyandotte Nation — 200 years after the federal government forced its relocation
  • Invitation to attend the “Change the Name” rally at U.S. Bank Stadium when the Washington Reds*ins play the Vikings Oct. 24
  • “Stories from our Native neighbors” event, Oct. 9, First Lutheran Church in Columbia Heights
  • Minnesota Court of Appeals hears oral arguments in Fond du Lac Band member Jim Northrup’s treaty rights case
  • The Tohono O’odham Nation, the Pasqua Yaqui, and the Hopi Tribe are part of suit that blocks large copper mine in Arizona

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Public Utilities Commission, Enbridge need to go back to square one on Line 3’s Human Trafficking Prevention Plan

When the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved the Route Permit for the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline, it required the company to develop a Human Trafficking Prevention Plan for the project’s construction phase.

Enbridge Line 3 is a proposed multi-billion dollar crude oil pipeline project that would run 340 miles through northern Minnesota. Public testimony and the state’s Line 3’s environmental impact statement raised concerns about the connection between the large influx of out-of-state construction workers for the project and increases in drug and sex trafficking along the construction route.

The Human Trafficking Prevention Plan is done, but Enbridge won’t release it. It appears Enbridge failed to engage a key participant — the Minnesota Human Trafficking Task Force — as the Public Utilities Commission required. Enbridge doesn’t even seem to think the Human Trafficking Prevention Plan is needed as it relates to Line 3.

It’s time to reset this conversation and start over.

A Minnesota Court of Appeals decision has put the Line 3 issue back before the Public Utilities Commission. The Commission now has chance to fix the problems.

Here are six reasons to worry that, without changes, Enbridge’s plan will be inadequate. Continue reading

Action Opportunity: Fundraiser to Elevate Awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

Mysti Babineau testifies for the bill earlier this year. Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein sits to her right.

The Minnesota Legislature passed a bill this year to create a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s (MMIW) Task Force, an important step and yet a baby step to address the abuse and disappearance of indigenous women and girls.

Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein (DFL_New Brighton) carried the bill for the past two years, and citizen advocate Mysti Babineau of Red Lake provided a lot of energy to get it passed. The Task Force will collect data and “dig into the underlying factors and systemic causes that explain why higher levels of violence occur against Native American women,” MPR reported.

Babineau has started a GoFundMe page to make sure this issue continues to get the attention it deserves.

It says:

There is a group of individuals who are planning an event to celebrate the passage of this historic legislation and honor those whose names we hold in our hearts.

We would like to collect stories to make sure the task force hears them. We would like supportive service groups/organizations on site to talk to the community. We would like to create a 100 foot by 40 foot quilted red dress compromised of squares created on site at the event by family members and loved ones of a missing relative.

Please donate as you are able!