According to a press release from Honor the Earth, a Twin Cities-based consulting company for public relations, marketing communications and multimedia editorial services, defendants who were arrested while opposing the construction of Enbridge’s Line 3 Pipeline launched a campaign calling on Minnesota’s elected leadership to drop all criminal charges against more than 700 water protectors.

A “Drop the Charges” petition was sent to Gov. Tim Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison with more than 13,000 signatures.

Organizers of the campaign describe the charges as unjust “based on the brutal policing tactics that the Enbridge corporation directly funded, the violation of Anishinaabe treaty rights and the project’s contribution to catastrophic climate change.”

Statewide, more than 1,000 arrests were made during the nine months of construction and over 100 water protectors have been charged with what they call “trumped up felonies.”

“These people were paid to break the law and no brutal policing tactics were used,” said Aitkin County Sheriff Dan Guida. “The taxpayers of Aitkin County should not have to pay for this.”

The Aitkin County Sheriff’s Office staff spent 480 hours training in preparation for the protests that came as a result of the pipeline construction, a portion of which goes through Aitkin County.

As far as “trumped up” charges, Guida said deputies made arrests for probable cause and the Aitkin County attorney reviewed the cases and determined the charges to be filed.

“They broke the laws established by the state of Minnesota,” said Guida.

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