Line 3 protesters are being bailed out of jail with duffel bags stashed with cash, according to a Hubbard County sheriff who has witnessed it multiple times.
Hundreds of protesters have been arrested across the state after locking themselves to construction equipment, trespassing, and damaging property on site at Enbridge’s Line 3 oil pipeline replacement project. Last week in Aitkin County, several out-of-state protesters were arrested after placing spikes in access roads, with the sole intent of damaging the tires and property of county residents.
In Hubbard County, Sheriff Cory Aukes said Line 3 protesters have been bailed out “time and time again” by people who bring in thousands of dollars in cash.
“What is amazing to me is the process after an arrest is made … Time and time again, a protester makes a phone call and someone shows up with a duffel bag full of cash to bail them out,” Aukes said in a letter, which was first reported by Park Rapids Enterprise.
He noted that the bags are often full of hundred-dollar bills. $52,000 in cash was brought in once. Recently, one person bailed out 18 protesters who each required $5,000-$10,000 in bail.
“That is a lot of cash to be carrying around in a duffel bag,” Aukes said. “They are obviously well funded.”
The Minnesota Freedom Fund, a fund backed by Vice President Kamala Harris that has repeatedly bailed out violent offenders and rapists, has been used to bail out Line 3 protesters as well.
The Pipeline Legal Action Network directed their followers to support the Minnesota Freedom Fund, which “committed to supporting the movement for all bail needs.”
The Minnesota Freedom Fund has been used to bail out several individuals accused of sexual assault and domestic violence, including one man who robbed an elderly woman and assaulted her in her own home.
“Water protectors,” the name Line 3 protesters call themselves, have said Sheriff Aukes receives direct payments from Enbridge to act as the company’s “private security.” Aukes reiterated in a press release that he responds to all incidents in the county the same, saying it’s about “public safety” and nothing more.
Aukes also noted that his office will continue to follow existing laws and arrest those who perform criminal acts. He said that some Native Americans who are protesting believe the laws do not apply them because of an 1855 treaty.
“I disagree. Nowhere in the 1855 treaty is language that permits the Chippewa Indians to commit felonies,” Aukes said. “I have no reason not to enforce the law equally with everyone.”