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Line 3 protesters chain themselves to equipment

A small group of water protectors, supported by Ginew Collective and Northfield Against Line 3, protested Monday what they called an "active construction site," located about 15 miles north of Park Rapids. (Submitted photo)

UPDATE: Lori Buffington of Great River Energy (GRE) adds that GRE's "transmission project is fully permitted – we received all of the necessary permits before we began construction. Secondly, Great River Energy is not Enbridge. We are a community-focused wholesale electric power cooperative that provides electric transmission to your area."

A group of self-proclaimed water protectors gathered to protest what they describe as "preliminary work" on the Line 3 project Monday.

At 10:30 a.m., the Hubbard County Sheriff's Office received a call regarding 20 to 30 protesters on private property 15 miles north of Park Rapids.

According to a news release from Sheriff Cory Aukes, responding officers found approximately six vehicles parked on 300th Street and 20 protesters either on the roadway or chained to logging equipment that was parked in the area. There were also anti-pipeline banners hanging from the equipment.

Law enforcement officials blocked access to the dead-end road as well as access to nearby driveways, stating it was illegal for vehicles to park on the shoulder of the highway.

The sheriff's news releases says the owner of the property advised the protesters to leave their property, but three individuals refused and remained chained to the equipment. Deputies were forced to cut the chains and bolts in order to free the individuals. One male and two females were taken into custody on trespassing charges. The names had not been released at press time.

The protesters were supported by Ginew Collective, Northfield Against Line 3 and others, according to a press release from these organizations. "Three water protectors locked themselves to logging equipment, while over a dozen concerned citizens rallied in support" to "halt work at an active construction site on the proposed Line 3 route," said the release.

Organizers say that Great River Energy, Enbridge's utility provider for numerous pump stations it needs to power its tar sands pipeline, is logging through water crossings and wetlands next to the Line 3 route.

They argue that neither the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency nor the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has issued the required permits for Line 3 construction across wetlands or water crossings, adding the state announced that the water quality certification process will not be complete until fall 2019.

"Enbridge pretends to follow the process while it is busy bulldozing through our forests and wetlands," said Frances Weatherall, who was locked to logging equipment.

Jonas, another protestor, said, "This is a step towards decolonization. Enbridge is carving up the planet, and our government doesn't care. Today, it's my turn to put my body between the planet I want to protect and the attacks against our water, our climate and Native sovereignty."

Juli Kellner, Enbridge communication specialist, said, "Although Great River Energy's transmission line will serve the new Two Inlet Line Line 3 pump station, these are separate projects. As for the Line 3 Replacement Project, we continue to work through the remaining regulatory and permitting activities. Line 3 is the most studied pipeline project in Minnesota's history."