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Line 3 Pipeline Water Protectors Head to Trial on Trumped-Up Felony Charges

Excerpt from Truthout article. Read the entire story here.

On Monday, August 28, a Water Protector arrested and charged with a felony for participating in a nonviolent direct action against the Line 3 pipeline will head to trial.

Legal experts have called the arrests of Water Protectors and protesters over the course of the pipeline’s construction an “effort to punish the underlying political expression.” This crackdown on pipeline opponents was funded by the private Canadian oil and gas corporation Enbridge Inc. Indigenous Land Defenders and tribes have opposed the 1,097 mile-long tar sands oil pipeline since 2014, when the corporation initiated Minnesota’s permitting process.

By the end of September 2021, just before Line 3 began operation in October, the PUC had paid out $2.9 million from the trust to Minnesota police. The PUC is also the state agency responsible for approving permit applications and reviewing environmental concerns throughout the Line 3 construction process.

But the Minnesota PUC fund was the first time that Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, director of the Center for Protest Law & Litigation, had seen this kind of public-private financial partnership between law enforcement and a fossil fuel corporation. By establishing the trust, Enbridge leveraged private funds to incentivize a taxpayer-supported state entity to target protesters, all under the guise of saving public funds. “When in reality, what it really means is that they’ve now purchased a police department in a way that allows the direction of those law enforcement resources against the political opponents of the corporation.… That’s where the money is,” Verheyden-Hilliard said.

She added that the Center for Protest Law & Litigation is preparing to launch a legal challenge to the constitutionality of the funding structure piloted in the state.