One Minnesota local leader is urging Gov. Tim Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison to hold Line 3 protesters accused of threatening workers and other crimes accountable.
In a Wednesday statement, Beltrami County Commissioner Craig Gaasvig expressed concern over a petition calling on Walz and Ellison to drop various charges against some of the protesters. The petition, organized by anti-Line 3 activists, has collected more than 62,000 signatures as of Friday afternoon. They are seeking 75,000 signatures.
“Waiving responsibility for what were violent and threatening acts by people who did not care about the impact of their actions is reprehensible,” he said. “People from around the country came to Minnesota to break the law, threaten workers, and stretch the resources of our first responders. There needs to be accountability for what happened and asking for charges to be dropped is an insult.”
“I respect people’s right to share their opinion but there needs to be accountability when it turns to threats and breaking the law,” he added.
According to Minnesotans for Line 3, many of the protesters were not from Minnesota. Some of them allegedly threatened pipeline workers, vandalized equipment, and interrupted meetings.
Others locked themselves to buildings and equipment, with first responders “forced to spend hours of time cutting protestors free before they could be arrested, taking time away from other important duties.”
The protesters, on the other hand, have accused police officers of engaging in surveillance, harassment, and torture. Anti-Line 3 activists claim that the charges against arrested protesters are “trumped-up.”
“In this time of climate catastrophe, Attorney General Ellison and Governor Walz must listen to water protectors instead of criminalizing and prosecuting them,” the petition reads.
Anti-Line 3 protesters did not just cause trouble around the site of the recently completed Enbridge pipeline. They have also been heckling Minnesota Democrats like Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith for not publicly opposing its construction.