The protestors seen in my photos have been blurred out for safety and out of respect for their identities and work.
My Mom is usually pretty busy so I hope she doesn’t find the time to read this blog post specifically.
Today I participated in some actions to Stop Line 3. Leaving at 5am in the dark we drove about an hour to our destination. It was dark and cold, our masks would become wet with moisture from our mouths but then freeze up on our faces and eyelashes. We went to a location where Enbridge has an easement on a public road, behind door number one: a giant mud pool with giant machines putting a green (ironic?) pipeline in the ground. Behind door number 2: the other side of the road, bare land cleared of the trees there before with a pipeline laid to go into the ground next.
Folks gathered at the edge of the driveways going into the site just off the road chanting things like “Can’t drink oil, keep it in the soil”, “Indigenous Rights, not greedy whites”, “Tar sands, bloody hands”, “Protect the Sacred”, “Pipelines are leaky, Protect the Mississippi.” Relatively quickly the police showed up telling us if we went on the property we would be arrested for trespassing, a short man in a uniform with most of his face covered read a 2 page packet to us. Honestly it probably only needed half a page not a whole packet. Also who doesn’t print front and back? Are my taxes paying for this? Anyway that’s not why we are here. Between the road and the Enbridge No Trespassing sign was our safe zone. We were also told if we blocked the road we were going to be arrested. Someone went around writing the jail assistance number on our arms in sharpie. Safety was only about a yard and a half wide, but at least it spanned the entire road. Some people left but not before the cops took down all of our plates. Jokes on you, it’s a rental. I stayed to express my nonviolent protest to the pipeline within legal limits.
While arrest was not my goal today some folks have the capacity to do it which is important as right now the ground thawing which makes construction possible. If we slow the pipeline process, we cost Enbridge money, the goal being to eventually make it fruitless for them to continue. One person spent over 2 hours under a machine in the morning, this morning was around 29 degrees Fahrenheit. He was arrested face first in the snow after leaving of his own accord.
There was also a woman who somehow secured herself to a machine halting the process. Once a “special team” had to come to remove her, who we believe is the sheriff became very short with us. More threats of arrest came, which makes me wonder if he knows he drinks the same water as us, or does his pension include Fiji water?
We stayed for hours, but in one special moment we gathered in the best circle we could manage considering the Trespassing sign. We all saged and were led in a moment of grounding by an Indigenous woman. We kneeled and put our hands on the earth. It was cold and muddy but it felt good. One of my companions was shaking because of the cold. I put my hand on their back and the shaking ceased. We all pulsed with energy, later they told me putting my hand on them pushed the cold away. Does the Power of the People count as a renewable energy source? Following our grounding, I busted out what every good act of protest needs, water and snacks and for a while things were smooth.
What kind of story would this be if things stayed smooth? The special team showed up, and took out what looked like a blow torch and a generator to assist in the removal of the protestor on the machine. All day we had no problems from the police for walking across the easement driveway along the side of the road under the condition we do not block the easement driveway. Things changed when the sheriff told a specific organizer that he could not keep walking near him or across the easement, and if he kept up ‘his mouth’ he would be arrested. Important PSA: disrespecting the cops is still not a crime. We were then told that we could no longer pass the easement driveway or we would be arrested. The problem is half the group was on the other side of the easement watching the police try to remove the remaining protestor on the machine. Folks came back to our side and were not stopped or addressed by the police. We confirmed with the present legal observers and we came to the conclusion that being on public land isn’t illegal so acknowledging the risks we all crossed together to sing to the protester during the attempted removal.
After a song, the sheriff took out these big black thick zip ties. I wear glasses but I saw those things quick! My goal wasn’t to get arrested, my Dad would freak out, finding jobs would be harder. I just wanted fresh clean water. Communication about what to do broke out. We all started looping arms with our folks. Myself along with 2 elders and 2 young adults linked together approached the sheriff. We were willing to leave if they would let us even if we didn’t agree with their reasoning however we would have to cross the easement again. The troll under the bridge let us pass without answering a riddle. Most of the group followed hustling to our line of cars. We live to organize another day.
We got to our car and threw the cooler in the trunk. The sheriff and 2 officers came up to our car to start harassing the elders about not getting in the truck fast enough. One of our elders struggled to even hear their complaints. We got out of there going under the speed limit and over using all our signals. We weren’t followed.
Coming back we all felt drained, we left so early that cooler snacks were the only thing we had eaten. We had to care for ourselves and rest for a while. Trying to help stop Line 3 has fulfilled my soul in a way that I have missed during the socially distanced time of COVID-19. I was drained but it felt right. Some people left, I didn’t get arrested but I could have been, and some were arrested. To me it’s all honorable work even getting arrested. All these folks are getting arrested for something they believe in. We all want clean water, so spend summers splashing around, to drink, to skate on, to fish in, the freedom to use the land, all things we could lose when we create pipelines. America is supposed to be for the People, so as the People when something is wrong we need to change the system to suit our needs not the other way around. Legality has never been morality, we make the laws by the morals we prioritize, however those change over time. Times have changed and now we know the harm that pipelines cause. Take action today. Donate to get supplies to Indigenous protestors on the frontlines here. Thank you to those who have already donated. Or help us spread the word and get people here for the spring!