Enbridge paid more than $8.6 million to Minnesota police and other agencies to clear the way for the expansion of its Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline by quelling protests and acts of civil disobedience, Grist reports.
The pipeline violates and threatens treaty-protected lands where several Anishinaabe tribes hold rights to hunt, fish, and gather nutritionally and culturally important wild rice. Invoices obtained via public records laws show Enbridge paid what amounted to its private security forces nearly $80,000 on June 7, 2021 for services that included a sound cannon and a U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter blowing away protesters with low-altitude rotor wash.
The Minneapolis Police Department also performed public relations work for Enbridge — the MPD press flack behind the infamous press release claiming George Floyd “physically resisted officers” also sent press releases and answered press queries on behalf of state agencies during the Line 3 protests.
Enbridge — which is also fighting the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, and the state of Michigan, over its potentially catastrophic Line 5 petrochemical pipeline — also paid nearly a quarter-million dollars in response to the increased sexual violence and human trafficking connected to Line 3 construction.
Fossil fuel extraction and pipeline construction is inextricable from the continued violation of Indigenous sovereignty and perpetuation of sexual violence against the Indigenous women who live near fossil fuel projects.
As reported by Grist:
Winona LaDuke, an Anishinaabe activist and founder of the Indigenous environmental nonprofit Honor the Earth, is among those arguing in court that charges should be thrown out. Aitkin County, the jurisdiction behind the allegations she’s fighting, was reimbursed $6,007.70 for wages and benefits on just one of the days she was arrested. LaDuke believes the money amped up the police response.
“They were far more aggressive with us, far more intent on finding any possible reason to stop somebody,” she said. “Law enforcement is supposed to protect and serve the people. They work for Enbridge.”
“Our concern is that this now will become the model for deployment nationwide against any community that is rising up against corporate abuse,” said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, the director of the Center for Protest Law and Litigation, who is representing some of the water protectors. “It becomes very easy to sell this to the public as a savings for taxpayers, when instead what they’re doing is selling their police department to serve the pecuniary interests of a corporation.”