Just Out of Jail, Winona LaDuke Decries Militarized Crackdown on Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline Protests

Nearly 600 water protectors have been arrested during ongoing protests in Minnesota against the construction of the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline at the Shell River, which the partially completed pipeline is set to cross in five places. On Monday, authorities arrested Indigenous leader Winona LaDuke and at least six others. She was just released from jail yesterday and joins us after three nights in jail. LaDuke describes how the Canadian multinational corporation Enbridge, which is building the pipeline, has funded more than 40 police squads from around the state to crack down on protests, saying, “It is a civil crisis when a Canadian multinational controls your police force.” LaDuke is executive director of Honor the Earth. She says Enbridge’s efforts to finish construction come as investors are increasingly pulling out of the fossil fuels sector. “Who wants to have the last tar sands pipeline? It’s the end of the party.”

We look now at the ongoing resistance to construction of the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline in Minnesota along the Shell River, which the partially completed pipeline is set to cross in five places. Nearly 600 water protectors have been arrested during protests against the pipeline so far.

On Monday, authorities arrested Indigenous leader Winona LaDuke and at least six others. She was just released from jail yesterday and joins us now after three nights in jail. She’s executive director of Honor the Earth, her latest book, To Be a Water Protector, joining us from her home on the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota.

Winona, welcome back to Democracy Now! Why were you arrested?

WINONA LADUKE: I was arrested because I wanted to stop Enbridge’s Line 3 from crossing the Shell River. I’ve been appointed guardian ad litem for Shell River by the 1855 Treaty Commission and by my tribe. And Enbridge is trying to finish this line. And along with — it’s now 600 people have been arrested. But we stood there in front of the police for quite a while with our people and, you know, our horses and our children. And they arrested seven of us.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain who owns Enbridge Line 3 and why you want it shut down.

WINONA LADUKE: Well, Enbridge Line 3 is owned by the Enbridge Corporation, the Canadian multinational that also owns the pipe under the Straits of Mackinac. And, you know, it’s a really risky Canadian corporation, 225 subsidiaries, with all the money kept in Canada. And they’re shoving this pipeline down our throat.

And about a month ago, the Minnesota DNR, which is probably the most corrupt agency in the state of Minnesota, allocated 5 billion gallons of water to Enbridge in the middle of a drought. They knew about the appropriation request in November. In December, they began under — studying it. And they didn’t even notify the tribes until May. And then they issued the permit in June — 5 billion gallons in the worst drought in history. You know, our rivers are down 50%, 75%, and yet this pipeline is marching ahead in the middle of this drought.

And, you know, ironically, you’re looking here, and, like, more and more money is being divested from the tar sands. I mean, the Saudi sovereign fund, you know, divested like $3 billion from the tar sands. And Chevron and a New York pension fund and Royal Dutch Shell, they’re all looking at doing this. It’s like the last tar sands pipeline, and Enbridge wants to shove it down our throats. And our Anishinaabe people and water protectors have been standing strong. And you’ve got to say, like, “Who wants to be the last — have the last tar sands pipeline?” It’s the end of the party.

But the Enbridge way seems to be to keep pushing ahead. They’ve — I think it’s called regulatory capture, when they take over your regulatory system and your police, because I think, as you know, Amy, the majority of the — Enbridge has been required by law to pay for the police forces in northern Minnesota required to put in their pipeline. And, you know, one has to ask, “If it was such a good idea, why do you need so many police?” But many, many —

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s talk about the police. The Intercept reported Thursday that Minnesota police expected the Line 3 pipeline to help boost their budget to fund new weapons. The article reveals that a few weeks before Line 3 was approved for construction, Aitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy Aaron Cook bought a new assault rifle that cost $725. In a November 2020 email, Cook wrote to the gun seller, quote, “Our budget took a hit last week, so that’s all we will be ordering for now. … I’m hoping the pipeline will give us an extra boost to next year’s budget, which should make it easy for me to propose an upgrade/trade to your rifles rather than a rebuild of our 8 Bushmasters” — referencing another assault rifle. Your response, Winona?

WINONA LADUKE: That’s exactly right. They’ve been bankrolling the northern police departments. Some of the police departments, like Aitkin County, were saddened by COVID, because they had to let people out of prison or out of jail there and losing money on their budgets in that dysfunctional system. And so, you know, at this point, Enbridge has been financing all these northern police departments. And so you’re seeing 40 different squads show up from counties throughout the state to repress water protectors, who are just trying to protect the water in northern Minnesota, and arrest hundreds of us.

And, you know, it begins — it’s a civil crisis when a Canadian multinational controls your police force. You know, I thought the police were supposed to work for the people and not for the Canadian multinational, but that’s not what’s happening up here. A Canadian multinational has taken our civil rights, clearly, you know, myself, among many, being put in jail. I mean, that’s the Enbridge way: control the police of the state of Minnesota and shove your pipeline through. You know, it’s so wrong from every aspect.

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