Attorney General Keith Ellison Speech Disrupted By Water Protectors

St. Paul, MN – During a swearing-in ceremony of the new Dean and President Anthony Niedwiecki at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law on September 23, 2021, water protectors disrupted Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s keynote speech to gauge his support of Line 3.

As Ellison was getting into his keynote speech, a water protector interrupted by challenging Ellison’s stance on whether he really stands with “[his] First Nations brothers and sisters” as he stated at the 2015 Tar Sands Resistance March in St. Paul. The water protectors requested a statement by Ellison, after chanting “stop line 3” and displaying a banner that read “President Biden, Protect Our Children’s Future.” Ellison agreed to meet them outside to have a conversation, and that they would have to trust him on that.

Jaike Spotted Wolf mentioned that tribal attorney Frank Bibeau has recently filed a federal lawsuit against the DNR for “unilaterally taking 5 billion gallons of water and giving it to Enbridge Line 3.“

The White Earth Band of Ojibwe’s main source of food is manoomin (wild rice), which grows on top of a main water source. The pipeline passes through more than 200 bodies of water and wetlands in Northern Minnesota, which risks contaminating the water that they draw nutrients from.

While having a conversation with water protectors outside, Ellison was asked about topics such as #MMIW, human trafficking, and his stance on Line 3. The pipeline projects have a correlation with increased sex trafficking due to the temporary housing facilities or ‘man camps’ that come along with working on them. Ellison continued to comment on the water protectors tone of voice more so rather than addressing their questions directly.

As of the writing of this article, Enbridge’s Line 3 is officially pumping oil and was put into service October 1, 2021. In response, Honor the Earth Executive Director Winona LaDuke said:

“Line 3 is a crime against the environment and indigenous rights, waters and lands, and it marks the end of the tar sands era – but not the end of the resistance to it, Enbridge has raced to build this line before the federal court has passed judgment on our appeals about the line, but the people have: We believe the most expensive tar sands oil pipeline ever built in the U.S. will be the last.”

Winona LaDuke

Pipeline resistance groups such as Camp Migizi—a water protectors’ camp in Cloquet, Minnesota—promise to continue the fight.