Dozens arrested during protest of oil pipeline in Minnesota

Dozens arrested during protest of oil pipeline in Minnesota
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Police arrested more than 160 people who were protesting the construction of the Line 3 oil pipeline in Northern Minnesota on Monday, an activist group confirmed to The Hill on Tuesday.

Around 164 people have been arrested and charged with trespassing on public utility and critical infrastructure, according to the National Lawyers Guild.

Hubbard County police started to arrest protesters late Monday after some used a fishing boat, bamboo and a steel cable to block the pathway of the construction site, The New York Times reported. Other protesters climbed on top of diggers and transformers boxes, chaining themselves to the machinery.

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About 2,000 protesters gathered over the weekend to protest the $9 billion pipeline expansion by Canadian company Enbridge. The Line 3 pipeline would carry thousands of barrels of oil into Minnesota's watersheds and tribal lands.

"It's tragic that 100-plus American citizens have to get arrested to stop a Canadian corporation from ravaging the north," said Winona LaDuke, executive director of the Native conservation group Honor the Earth. "It's a sorrowful day in Minnesota when a foreign corporation can finance repression, including the use yesterday of a federal helicopter to execute a dangerous and unnecessary tactical maneuver to everyone on the ground — and in the air! We hope that our Indigenous rights to exist are protected by the Biden administration."

A Enbridge spokesperson said in a email to The Hill that their crews were able to get back to the site on Tuesday, adding that 44 workers had to evacuate from the site. 

"Our first priority is the safety of all involved - our workers, men and women in law enforcement and the protestors themselves. It should be noted that protest affected work at just this site, and construction continued yesterday and today across dozens of worksites in the five construction zones that stretch across northern Minnesota," Enbridge said in their statement to The Hill.

"To date, protests have had little impact on the project’s construction schedule which is on track to be completed and in service in the fourth quarter of this year. Enbridge operations were unaffected."

The Times reported that authorities appeared to use a sonic device known as an LRAD (Long Range Acoustic Device) to disperse the crowd of protesters on Monday, and used bolt cutters to cut protesters loose from the machinery.

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Hubbard County Sheriff Cory Aukes said that authorities "arrested a lot of people," adding "it’s up to them how long this gets drawn out," the Times reported. The sheriff said that if space in the county jail runs out, protesters would be transferred to neighboring counties.

Actress Jane Fonda on Tuesday called on President BidenJoe BidenBriahna Joy Gray: White House thinks extending student loan pause is a 'bad look' Biden to meet with 11 Democratic lawmakers on DACA: report Former New York state Senate candidate charged in riot MORE and his administration to halt the construction of the pipeline, saying Biden hasn't done "enough" on pipelines.

The Hill has reached out to the sheriff's office for further comment.

— Zack Budryk contributed.

Updated at 6:37 p.m.