Schultz urges Ellison to reject calls to become special prosecutor for Line 3 protesters

"They obviously believe that you will reduce or drop criminal charges," Schultz said.

A blockade created by anti-Line 3 agitators in Aitkin County last year. (Facebook/Northern Lights Task Force)

Jim Schultz, the Republican-endorsed candidate for Minnesota attorney general, is calling on Attorney General Keith Ellison to turn down any potential offer appointing him special prosecutor against Line 3 protesters.

In a Monday letter to Ellison, Schultz expressed concern with activists calling on Gov. Tim Walz to appoint Ellison as special prosecutor for “the most egregious cases” involving Line 3 protesters facing various criminal charges.

“I call on you to publicly reject the request to be appointed special prosecutor for these cases and to instead let local prosecutors and members of our outstanding law enforcement community know you support their work to hold people accountable for their actions,” Schultz wrote.

It is estimated that over 900 protesters were arrested last year as they demonstrated against the installation of the Enbridge pipeline in northern Minnesota. Some are facing charges for issuing threats to pipeline workers, trespassing into open pipe, and damaging or chaining themselves to construction equipment.

Schultz called the 2021 protests a “planned and coordinated campaign” and spelled out why activists want Ellison as a special prosecutor.

“They obviously believe that you will reduce or drop criminal charges, allowing those presently charged with these crimes to avoid accountability,” he wrote. “It is understandable why Honor the Earth leader Winona LaDuke would make this request, given that you stood with her in the past at events to support people who used the same tactics to try to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.”

Last July, Hubbard County Sheriff Cory Aukes said he witnessed Line 3 protesters get bailed out of jail with duffel bags “full of cash” on multiple occasions. Many protesters, some of whom are not from Minnesota, have also seen their charges dropped.

“Minnesota has seen far too many protests that have escalated from legitimate free speech
into illegal violent acts,” Schultz told Ellison. “With the significance and severity of what has happened, Minnesotans deserve to know if you will stand with law enforcement to uphold the rule of law and hold individuals accountable or, on the contrary, you believe violent protests are acceptable and stand with individuals charged with violent crime.”


Evan Stambaugh

Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.