State of Intimidation: Minnesota law enforcement’s in-your-face approach to ‘Treaties Not Tar Sands’ rally

Winona LaDuke speaking Wednesday

What’s wrong with this picture? It implies a significant and violent threat where there was none.

The ‘Treaties Not Tar Sands’ rally at the Capitol Wednesday drew 1,000 to 2,000 people. It was a beautiful and powerful event. I will write more about it in the coming days. It deserves more attention.

Tonight, I’m focusing on law enforcement’s massive and intimidating response — and how rally-goers responded.

At one point I counted 33 officers on or near the front steps of the Capitol. And there were many others spread out around the Capitol complex.

The question is: Why is it when large numbers of black and brown people show up for some event, law enforcement feels compelled to use a show of force?

Given all the racial tensions around policing, law enforcement had to know this approach was bad optics. It did it anyway. That means law enforcement either had little concern about making people feel unwelcome, scared, and/or angry, or in fact that was the intention.

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Four-day ‘Treaties Not Tar Sands’ Encampment opens on the State Capitol Mall

A dozen tepees went up on the Minnesota State Capitol Mall Monday.

Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 contradictions around racial equity.

Gov. Tim Walz issued an executive order in 2019 committing the state to meaningful consultation with Native Nations. He followed that up by allowing Enbridge to build its Line 3 tar sands pipeline over strong tribal opposition with little or no consultation.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has touted its racial justice framework. When the agency approved permits for Enbridge Line 3, a majority of its Environmental Justice Working Group resigned, writing: “… we cannot continue to legitimize and provide cover for the MPCA’s war on black and brown people.”

Native grandmothers, water protectors, and their allies are not letting up. They have set up camp on the Capitol lawn as a sign both of their ongoing resistance to Line 3 and their long-standing commitment to uphold treaty rights.

The state has responded with fear: erecting fencing around the Capitol and sending a heavy police presence.

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A song to lift your spirits, a gathering to show our power: #StopLine3

Water protectors continue marching, organizing, suing in court, and putting their bodies on the line to stop the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline.

Enbridge said in a Canadian filing that tar sands oil could start flowing through Line 3 as early as Sept. 15.

The Minnesota state government and its regulatory bodies have failed us at every turn. The federal government and its regulatory bodies have failed us at every turn.

We need to replenish our spirits. We need to keep working to stop Line 3. Pipeline construction might be nearing completion, but that doesn’t mean it ever should be allowed to operate and carry oil. See below.

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