By ERWIN FREED
The centuries-long fight against capitalist exploitation of the environment is reaching a new height in unceded treaty lands occupied by the state of Minnesota. Anishinaabe community members and Native and non-Native comrades are taking a stand against Enbridge’s reroute and expansion of the Line 3 natural gas pipeline.
Enbridge is a multinational corporation headquartered in Canada. As SR reported in January, at “1097 miles long, originating in Hardisty, Alberta, and ending in Superior, Wis., it is the largest project in Enbridge’s history. Construction is already complete in the Canada and Wisconsin sections. … Stop Line 3 has noted that the Line 3 replacement will contribute more to climate change than the entire economy of Minnesota.”
On July 30, Minnesota police officers escalated their repression of anti-pipeline activists. Militarized officers have begun using “less lethal” weapons, including tear gas and rubber bullets, against water defenders. While hundreds have been brutally arrested for bravely defending Treaty rights and the environment along the pipeline route, this is a major escalation.
The state under capitalism is fundamentally the dictatorship of the bosses, investors, and landlords over working and oppressed peoples. Police from every level—local, state, federal, etc.—have been utilized to repress water protectors. Enbridge is directly paying for police protection, making quite explicit the relationship between capital and state repression. Minnesota police officers have been specifically training to police the Line 3 expansion sites since at least 2016.
Indigenous leaders are undeterred in the face of increasing repression. After being brutalized and arrested, Tara Houska, Couchiching First Nation Anishinaabe land defender and Giniw Collective founder, was quoted in a press release, saying, “This is our land, our wild rice, our culture, our future we are defending. Human beings are literally destroying life with our addiction to the status quo of overconsumption. We have to be brave. We have to stand strong. We have to try. Actions, not words.”
In that same press release, John Shimek of Red Lake Nation expanded on Houska’s point with the statement: “I’m standing in opposition of industrial development of my treaty territory by a foreign corporation. An estimated 20% of the freshwater supply left on the planet exists in my treaty territory, it’s my obligation to protect it for my children and all future generations.”
The Biden administration and local Democrats have done nothing to stem the tide of repression developing nationally with particularly sharp manifestations in pipeline zones and (broken) treaty lands. A number of new and increasingly drastic anti-protest laws are being adopted and proposed around the country. In South Dakota, for example, National Guards members have been authorized to use lethal force against pipeline protestors. Just as in Minnesota, pipeline company TransCanada has set up a “peace fund” of $20 million that can be used to pay for policing protests, activists, and Indigenous peoples.
All groups with an interest in obtaining a better future for humanity need to denounce Enbridge and the government’s attacks on water protectors. The escalations against pipeline protestors are an attack on all fighters for social and economic justice. There is an urgent need for national and international actions in solidarity with the water protectors at fighting Line 3, as well as people coming in to help fight on the front lines.
All charges against protesters must be dropped immediately. Enbridge and the police are the ones trespassing on stolen lands, not Anishinaabe community members and their allies.
Photo: Activists are confronted by police in Mississippi headwaters. (Credit: StopLine3)