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“Arrestable action out of necessity”: students fighting Line 3 speak out

In Northern Minnesota, the Enbridge corporation is racing to build the Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline as resistance grows. Since December, pipeline workers have ravaged a corridor through the state—chopping down trees like toothpicks, tearing up the ground, and welding massive sections of pipe together. The construction is an inescapable presence. Driving around, you’ll notice entryways to the construction area marked with brightly colored flags every few miles. You’ll see construction equipment, you’ll see trenches, you’ll see police keeping watch over the line. 

The Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline, if built, will cause almost $300 billion in climate damage, equal to 50 new coal plants. If the pipeline is finished, the tar sands oil will make it impossible for Minnesota to reach net zero emissions.

But that’s not all—Line 3 violates the right of Anishinaabe people to practice their lifeways guaranteed by treaties. When the pipeline spills (and it will ), the oil will pollute water in the Mississippi and other waterways, threatening Anishinaabe wild rice. The presence of pipeline workers also increases rates of drug and human-trafficking, worsening the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives crisis (MMIWR). 

Over spring break, a group of Carls—including us writing here—drove up to Northern Minnesota to fight Line 3. Since the pipeline is already halfway built, the way we stop it is by literally stopping it, putting our bodies in the way of construction. Towards the end of break, on March 25th, we stood in solidarity with 16 water protectors on an active Line 3 construction site. On that day, we locked ourselves to other allies, and defended Indigenous people as they prayed for our planet and our more-than-human-kin in a waag–a sacred Anishinaabe structure–on their native land and current treaty territory. 

From that day, we remember solidarity, hope, and pain. It hurts to see the land torn apart before your eyes for the profit of a Canadian oil company, it hurts to see Indigenous comrades mourn their land and culture, it hurts to know that the pipeline will poison the water and air of future generations. 

But beyond the pain, there is solidarity and hope. We fight in solidarity because all of our fates are intertwined—we all need clean water and want a healthy earth for our children. Protecting the sacred and defending the waters gives us a shared purpose and helps us learn how to create community and hope while preventing catastrophe. The love and support that we give each other shows us that another world is possible—because even with the fear of the pipeline, folks in the Stop Line 3 movement care for each other, splitting chores, providing mutual aid, and sharing knowledge. 

On the construction site, we stood with our arms locked together and halted construction for four hours. Police responded swiftly to our presence on the site, arresting bystanders and quickly working to extract us. They arrested us, placed us in dog kennels, strip-searched us, shackled us and held us overnight in jail—all for doing the necessary work of preventing the continued destruction of the land that sustains us. While in jail, my (Anna’s) cellmate remarked that this sort of work had not been on their radar in college, but then again, she hadn’t watched the world burn nor a seemingly endless stream of televised police killings.

Putting our bodies and our freedom on the line is something we do because we must. Our planet burns, the land is torn apart, our futures are at stake. Other tactics—petitions, lobbying, marches—have failed to prevent the construction of this pipeline, so we take arrestable action out of necessity. 

The fight against line 3 is a fight to protect water, land, treaties, Indigenous women, a livable future. It’s a struggle to put people over the profit of a Canadian oil company. It’s a rally for a better world, one where we care for each other, the planet, and our more-than-human kin. Additionally, we may be fighting against line 3, but this isn’t about us. As white settlers, we know it is our duty to support this fight because our ancestors colonized this land. Additionally, because of our skin color, we’ll have an easier time in the court system. 
Enbridge will continue constructing line 3 this summer, but we have the power to say no. We as students have the lifetime opportunity to mobilize for a better world—so hit us up over email or come to one of our trainings in the coming weeks. Join us and Carls Against Line 3 to help fight a pipeline this summer—take the chance and go up to Northern MN to say yes to clean water and a livable planet. The time is now.

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