Early this morning, a group of water protectors from the Makwa Initiative halted the last piece of construction for the Wisconsin section of Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 replacement project. Two water protectors locked together inside a segment of steel pipe in defense of Mother Earth. Sleeping pads and blankets protected their skin from exposure in the below freezing temperatures.
Upon arrival, police officers tackled a young female water protector without providing notice or reason for arrest. A male police officer physically searched the woman while a female police officer looked on, ignoring her cries for a female patdown. The water protector was later released when police dropped all charges. After several hours, the two locked water protectors left the pipe and also stopped active construction further into the worksite and are still being detained.
The project is estimated to carry almost one million barrels of tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to Superior, Wisconsin; Enbridge has received approval in Wisconsin, but has not received approval in Minnesota, which would be the largest segment of the proposed project. The non-violent direct action came after a week of evidentiary hearings in Minnesota, where Enbridge revealed that it had already paid for 100% of the pipe for the project, and has built several pipe storage yards across the state.
A water protector stated, “We have attended public hearings, marches, and rallies. At this point we feel like the only way we can make are voices heard is by locking our bodies to the equipment. The state has recorded our comments, catalogued them, and say they factor them into their decision on whether or not to permit the project. We want them to stop expanding tar sands infrastructure. We need to be thinking about our children’s futures.”
Photos by Rob Wilson Photography