Several protesters arrested at Enbridge offices in Duluth
Several people protesting against the construction of new or replacement Enbridge Energy oil pipelines in the Upper Midwest were arrested and charged with trespassing after entering the company's downtown Duluth offices on Monday afternoon.
The Duluth Police Department reported that officers responded to the protest at about 1:30 p.m. and asked the group to leave Enbridge offices in the Tech Village building.
"Most of the protesters left without any problems. Seven protesters refused to leave after several requests were made and they were arrested without incident," Duluth police public information officer Ron Tinsley reported.
"There were a lot of people who feel we needed to send a strong message to Enbridge right now, directly. So going to the office seemed like the best way to do it," said Andy Pearson of environmental rights group MN350, which helped organize the protest.
Organizers estimated the protest included about 200 people, about 75 of whom entered the Enbridge offices.
"We brought a drum with us and were able to sing two powerful songs in the Enbridge office before we were asked to leave," said Rene Ann Goodrich of the Native Lives Matter Coalition from St. Paul, another group involved in the protest.
Goodrich said that the 75 protesters in the office were asked to leave because they were trespassing on private property. Some refused to leave until employees accepted their "letter of demand."
"The letter of demand was attempted to be handed to every employee in the office. Nobody opened their hands to receive it and it ended up being put on the floor," Pearson said.
The letter included a demand for full tribal consultation on proposed pipeline projects, and full environmental reviews.
Jordan Hartzheim, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater who traveled to Duluth to take part in the protest, said she and a fellow student both were detained, then released. She said she felt the protest was a success.
"We were able to educate people about the cause, so it was great," Hartzheim said.
Among the projects opposed by the protesters is Enbridge's proposed Sandpiper oil pipeline, which would transport oil more than 600 miles from western North Dakota to Superior — cutting across northern Minnesota on its route.
In response to the protest, Enbridge issued a statement saying that it "recognizes the rights of people to express their views legally and peacefully, and to discuss Enbridge's business and projects. We encourage active discussions on our operations and projects, as long as everyone is respectful of those who live and work near our pipelines, including our employees and contractors, and of our pipelines and facilities. Enbridge will continue to engage in conversations with individuals and communities in areas where we have operations or active projects."
There was no damage to the office, Enbridge officials said.
Other organizations involved in Monday's protest included Honor the Earth, MPIRG and Flood The System-RTNA.