Line 3 protesters removed from Minnesota Capitol grounds, 4 arrested

Three police carry one man.
Minnesota State Troopers remove and arrest an activist, who identifies as a water protector, from the site of a protest opposing the Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul on Friday.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Updated: 5:25 p.m.

The Minnesota State Patrol arrested four people Friday as they tried to clear the Minnesota Capitol grounds of one protest in order to prepare for other protests expected this weekend. 

The four arrests were for misdemeanor trespass, according to a State Patrol spokesperson, and two people were cited for obstruction and released.

The Native American-led protest against Enbridge Energy's Line 3 oil pipeline began earlier this week at the Capitol, and some participants remained on site.

Troopers carried some protesters onto a bus as dozens of law enforcement officers surrounded a remnant of the 1,000 or more protesters who had gathered for a major rally calling on Gov. Tim Walz and President Joe Biden to pull permits and shut down the replacement pipeline project. Officers announced over a loudspeaker that the protesters' permit had expired Thursday night and refusal to leave would result in arrests.

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Indigenous and environmental activists who oppose the pipeline argue the project violates Native American treaty rights and will aggravate climate change and risk spills that would contaminate areas where Indigenous people hunt, fish and gather wild rice.

“We have been holding space in ceremony at the Minnesota State Capitol grounds in a stand to protest Line 3 and Enbridge activity on Indgienous soil,” said Jaike Spotted Wolf, a water protector with Camp Migizi. “Police forcibly removed our lodge this morning in an attempt to halt ceremony. Though police used violence to oppress us, Migizi stood strong and officers left the scene.”

Some protestors had removed tipis they had erected, but one remained after the permit expired. That tipi was removed by its owners Friday while troopers looked on. Personal property that remained at the site was also removed by members of the group, according to the Public Safety spokesperson.

Separate weekend protests are planned related to vaccine mandates and voting rights.

State officials said those three large protests, as well as an abundance of caution, were why they reinstalled security fencing around the Capitol building.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.