Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Taysha Martineau

Camp Migizi co-founder Taysha Martineau appeals to Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison after a protest against the Line 3 tar sands pipeline in St. Paul on September 23, 2021. (Photo: Movement to Stop Line 3)

Water Protectors Challenge Minnesota AG Keith Ellison's Silence on Line 3 Pipeline

"What is your plan?" one demonstrator asked while interrupting a speech by Ellison. "Are you going to take a stand?"

Brett Wilkins

Water protectors fighting to stop Enbridge's Line 3 tar sands pipeline expansion interrupted a Thursday evening speech by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison to challenge the Democrat's silence on the multi-billion-dollar project, which violates Anishinaabe treaty rights while endangering local ecosystems, Indigenous communities, and the global climate.

"What will you do about the frivolous charges brought against over 800 people drawing attention to Line 3's climate impacts and civil rights violations?"
—Water protector

"In 2015 at an anti-tar sands rally, you promised to stand with the First Nations brothers and sisters—that's a quote—and defend Mother Earth," one protester shouted out as he was removed from the St. Paul auditorium hosting a ceremony for the new dean of the Mitchell Hamline School of Law. "And yet you've been silent on Line 3... What is your plan? Are you going to take a stand?"

Another water protector asked, "What will you do about the frivolous charges brought against over 800 people drawing attention to Line 3's climate impacts and civil rights violations?"

Ellison, who was the keynote speaker, admonished the demonstrators but agreed to meet with them after the event.

In a video of a post-event exchange published by BLCK Press, Jaike Spotted-Wolf, a leader in the frontline Line 3 resistance group Camp Migizi, told Ellison that "two out of three tribes didn't approve" the pipeline, "and you guys went against treaty law, which is sovereign... you went above the treaty to approve that pipeline. And protesters have been violently arrested all summer long. What are your thoughts on that, as people are being sex-trafficked all along that pipeline?"

Camp Migizi founder Taysha Martineau showed Ellison a photo of their three daughters and asked, "Which one are the Enbridge workers going to target? Which one is going to be raped before the age of 15, which one is going to go missing, which one is going to get murdered, and which one are they going to attempt to sex traffic?"

As Ellison stood in sullen silence, Martineau continued: "This is an honest conversation that Indigenous women wake up every single day terrified about... The [Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women] issue is always going to be there."

"I'm supposed to be able to trust you," they told Ellison, who replied, "I didn't ask you to trust me."

"I've said I don't like Line 3," Ellison said. "If I had any authority to do anything about Line 3, I would."

The attorney general assured the protesters that he would look into sex trafficking and other abuses perpetrated by Line 3 workers.

In 2015, then-Congressman Ellison (D-Minn.) held up a sign reading "I Will Act on Climate" at a Tar Sands Resistance March in St. Paul, and declared, "We've got to stand together; we've got to say no to... fossil fuels; we've got to defend Mother Earth."

However, according to anti-Line 3 campaigners, Ellison has not taken a public stance on the project since being elected attorney general.

The administration of President Joe Biden—who earlier this month called the climate emergency a "code red" crisis—was accused in June of a "horrible and unconscionable betrayal" of his climate promises after filing a legal brief backing the federal government's 2020 approval of the Line 3 project under former President Donald Trump.

Earlier this week, after Democratic Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz kicked off Minnesota Climate Week by vowing to "recommit to combating climate change," Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) tweeted, "Let's #StopLine3."

The Indigenous-led frontline group Honor the Earth denounced Walz for what they called his meaningless climate proclamation while imploring the governor to "take real action."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

New Filing Reveals Sinema Pads Campaign Coffers With More Pharma and Finance Funds

"This is what someone who's bought and paid for looks like."

Brett Wilkins ·


'We're Not Stopping': Weeklong D.C. Climate Protests End With 650+ Arrests, Vows to Fight On

"There is no other planet to escape to. Water is life... They need to listen to the youth. They need to hear us speak our cries."

Brett Wilkins ·



Ousted by AOC, Joe Crowley Now Lobbying Against Tax Hikes on Corporate Giants

The former chair of the House Democratic Caucus once called the GOP's 2017 tax law a "scam," but now he's collaborating with Wall Street to undermine attempts at progressive reform.

Kenny Stancil ·


'Corporate Fraud at Its Worst': J&J Hides Behind Bankruptcy Amid Baby Powder Lawsuits

"Here we go again," said Elizabeth Warren. "Another giant corporation is abusing our bankruptcy system."

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo