A group of four protesters seemingly affiliated with the Catholic Workers Movement were arrested Monday after video showed them disabling an Enbridge pipeline in northern Minnesota.
The protesters, calling themselves “Four Necessity Valve Turners,” say they were left with no choice but to take “direct action” in the ongoing fight over reconstructing Enbridge’s aging Line 3 pipeline. In a live-stream of their demonstration, the protesters claim that they “succeeded in shutting down Enbridge Line 4.”
Enbridge wouldn’t confirm whether or not this is true in a statement to Duluth News-Tribune, but video of the incident clearly shows the protesters using wrenches to tamper with a pipeline in a fenced-off area.
“We’re back on. We heard some sirens but they weren’t for us. We’re going to keep trying to get this thing off,” one of the protesters says in the video while another asks if it seems “too dangerous to wedge something in here.”
Duluth News-Tribune reported that the four were ultimately arrested and an Enbridge spokeswoman later said that the company supports “the prosecution of all those involved.”
“The recent scientific study on climate change presented to the UN indicates that the threat of irreversible damage and destruction to our planet is imminent,” the protesters said in a statement. “Therefore, having exhausted all legal and political avenues, and having found those avenues lethally inadequate either to curb our dependency on fossil fuels or to stop its expansion, we find it necessary to take this direct action of turning off the flow of poisonous tar sands oil.”
The protesters have launched a website to spread the word about their cause, identifying themselves as a “group of Catholic workers and farmers” who are “spiritually rooted and devoted to the care of all life.”
“We are ordinary people without all the answers, and yet we each feel personally called to step into responsibility by standing in the way of this deadly fossil fuel industry, which benefits the few at the expense of all life, especially those who are most vulnerable,” their website adds.
Minnesotans for Line 3 released a statement Monday afternoon calling the protesters’ actions “dangerous and potentially criminal activity that puts lives and the environment at risk.”
“What happened today is not civil disobedience,” the group said. “It it wrong and thankfully the Enbridge system prevented any accident from happening.”
“Claiming to be non-violent and wanting ‘justice’ while trespassing and trying to damage an active oil pipeline is ecological hypocrisy,” the statement adds. “They could have created a disaster and put people and the environment at risk of serious damage.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo “Protesters” by Peter Maurin.
Background Photo “Pipeline” by Brian Cantoni. CC BY 2.0.