Joe Meinholz’s letter to the editor about protecting the human rights of pipeline protestors (Sept. 19) was interesting only because it so blatantly misled readers about the facts of law enforcement and the Line 3 pipeline project. Even more startling is that Mr. Meinholz should know better, representing an organization of Minnesota faith leaders.
The facts are that Enbridge was asked by the state of Minnesota to help defray expenses of law enforcement in northern Minnesota to help keep people, local communities and property safe during possible protests related to the pipeline project. The Public Safety Escrow Trust, of which Meinholz wrongly assigns dark motives, was actually a requirement of the order by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission when they approved Enbridge’s application for the Line 3 replacement project. Faulting Enbridge for being asked by the state to help defray these costs is the height of hypocrisy.
Law enforcement’s job is to protect everyone. Coordinating work by departments and agencies across northern Minnesota helps make the best use of the limited resources individual departments have, particularly in these times of constrained budgets during COVID-19.
Unfortunately, law enforcement has to spend time planning for worse case scenarios because of protestors disrupting the Dakota pipeline project in 2016 and what happened last year near Cloquet. Scheff Logging and Trucking had more than $100,000 in damage done to their equipment by Line 3 opponents who assumed a logging project was related to the pipeline. They were wrong because work on Line 3 can’t begin until the project is fully permitted.
It is also worth noting that the Line 3 crosses the land of the Fond du Lac Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, both which have signed agreements that support the Line 3 replacement project.
While we believe Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light advocates for peaceful demonstrations, how are we to trust protests will indeed be peaceful? Media reports about protests following the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis were allegedly “peaceful,” yet we all saw what that led to. Just because people feel strongly about an issue does not mean that violence and damage to private property is a justifiable means to an end.
My husband has made a career working on the pipeline for the last 14 years and I would like to feel confident that he can continue his work safely and without threats and harassment.