State of Intimidation Part II: Police overkill on Capitol Hill

South lawn of the Minnesota State Capitol. Photo: Maggie Schuppert

Minnesota law enforcement launched an over-the-top, fear-and-intimidation response to water protectors camped out in front the Capitol Friday.

The ‘Treaties Not Tar Sands’ rally had run Monday-Thursday on the Minnesota State Capitol Mall, calling on elected officials to shut down the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline. It was a peaceful scene; roughly 20 tipis had been erected on the mall.

By late Thursday, a single large tipi remained. Native leaders were holding ceremony. Others were sleeping on the mall, according to one participant.

On Friday morning, law enforcement officers approached from multiple directions and swarmed the lone tipi. [Update: A media release from ResistLine3.org estimated 200 officers responded.] It as if they were trying to prevent a hostage situation or a bank robbery.

They demanded the tipi come down.

Indigenous leaders had to negotiate to be allowed to take the tipi down so that it could be saved rather than have law enforcement tear it down, one source said.

[Update: Six people had been arrested Friday.] The charges were not immediately known.

This situation raises significant questions about law enforcement’s bias against Indigenous water protectors and its ability to respond in proportion to the situation.

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Line 3 updates: Enbridge, PUC field tough questions in court; “Operation River Crossing,” and more

  • PUC rejects nearly $100,000 in Line 3 reimbursements sought by the Beltrami County Sheriff
  • Northern Lights Task Force launches “Operation River Crossing” for Line 3
  • Enbridge faces tough questioning on the need for Line 3
  • U. of M. students press Regents to denounce and defund Line 3, seek public support
  • Stronger Together to Stop DAPL, Line 3 event Tuesday, March 30
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How will Minnesota law enforcement respond to Line 3 protests?

Hint: It’s a secret

Almost two years ago, Unicorn Riot published an investigative piece on how the state of Minnesota was preparing to respond to expected protests over construction of the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline. (Multi-Agency Task Force Prepares “Rules of Engagement” For Line 3 Protests.)

It pulled the curtain back on the “Northern Lights Task Force,” a group that was “stockpiling equipment and training police in preparation for Line 3 pipeline protests across the state.”

The coordination involved law enforcement agencies from states across the region including Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Documents showed that state officials had created an incident ‘Mobile Response Teams’ (or ‘MRTs’) to rapidly deploy and “confront any protest against the pipeline” in each of the State Patrol districts.

More than four months ago, when it began to look like the state would approved Line 3, Healing Minnesota Stories wrote the Minnesota Department of Public Safety to ask for basic information on the Northern Lights Task Force.

So far, the department hasn’t provided any information.

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Minnesota Law Enforcement Already Coordinating with Enbridge to Respond to Line 3 Protests, Report Says

Unicorn Riot has uncovered documents revealing Minnesota has created a task force “stockpiling equipment and training police in preparation for Line 3 pipeline protests across the state.” According to its Feb. 11 story: Multi-Agency Task Force Prepares “Rules of Engagement” For Line 3 Protests: “The documents show coordination between various law enforcement agencies from states across the region including Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.”

Called the Northern Lights Task Force, it’s already coordinating communications and resources with Enbridge, the story said. Hundreds of officers have already taken trainings on how to respond to civil disobedience. Continue reading