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Line 3 protestors face mass arrests at Mississippi Headwaters, pipeline resistance group says

Indigenous and community leaders are facing mass arrests, and eviction, by Clearwater County law enforcement during their weeklong protest of the Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline after receiving an eviction notice for trespassing on its pipeline easement on Monday, June 14, 2021. According to a statement from the Resilient Indigenous Sisters Engaging (RISE) Coalition, the group had been occupying the easement since June 7 after the Treaty People Gathering, a gathering of around 2,000 marchers protesting the continued construction of the pipeline through Minnesota waterways.

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Protesters demonstrate at a makeshift bridge designed for heavy construction equipment at the headwaters of the Mississippi River while voicing their concerns over the Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline on Monday, June 7, 2021, as part of the Treaty People Gathering. (Michael Achterling / Tribune)
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Tribal leaders, and other protestors, are facing mass arrests and eviction from their weeklong occupation of a Enbridge Line 3 pipeline easement after receiving an eviction notice for trespassing from Enbridge on Monday, according to a statement from the Resilient Indigenous Sisters Engaging Coalition, also known as RISE.

The group declined the June 14 notice and claims they are exercising their treaty rights on the land, including "guaranteed rights to hunt, fish and gather on lands that we ceded to the United States government."

Dawn Goodwin, member of the RISE Coalition, read the group's response in Facebook video posted to the group's page on June 14.

"Throughout the multi-year Enbridge Line 3 review process, Enbridge and the state of Minnesota have remained willfully ignorant of our rights established under the treaties of 1837, 1854 and 1855," Goodwin stated, in her response letter. "Our treaty rights are the supreme law of the land, according to Article VI of the U.S. Constitution. These take precedent over any state-approved easement or trespass laws."

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The group also posted photos of Clearwater County Sheriff Darin Halverson speaking with the remaining protestors at the easement. In a tweet, the RISE Coalition claims around 50 water protectors remain at the Firelight Camp, a group of tents on the pipeline easement along the marshlands of the Mississippi River headwaters.

Also on Monday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the approval for Line 3 construction permits.

In the majority opinion of the three-judge panel, Judge Lucinda E. Jesson wrote: "While reasonable minds may differ on the central question of need for replacement Line 3, substantial evidence supports the commission's decision to issue a certificate of need."

She concluded her opinion, stating, "Finally, the commission reasonably selected a route for the replacement pipeline based upon respect for tribal sovereignty, while minimizing environmental impacts. Accordingly, we affirm."

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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Matthew Guerry, of Forum News Service, contributed to this report.

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