Conservation groups involved in organizing protests against the Line 3 pipeline project in northern Minnesota have directed individuals to the Minnesota Freedom Fund (MFF) for bail assistance. Vice President Kamala Harris urged her Twitter followers to donate to the MFF last summer to help Black Lives Matter protesters post bail.
“The Minnesota Freedom Fund has committed to supporting the movement for all bail needs,” the Pipeline Legal Action Network, a group supporting the legal needs of the pipeline protesters, stated on its website.
In addition, the conservation organization 350 Rutland County, which has organized Line 3 demonstrations, directed people who couldn’t attend the protests to donate money to the MFF.
The Canadian oil company Enbridge, which operates the Line 3 pipeline, is more than halfway through constructing its $4 billion replacement, according to MPR News. The pipeline has transported tar sands oil from Canada to the U.S. through Minnesota for more than 50 years.
Enbridge transports 25% of the total crude oil produced in North America and is responsible for 40% of U.S. crude oil imports. The company operates about 17,127 miles of pipeline in North America. (RELATED: Keystone XL Pipeline Project Terminated, Developer Says)
But thousands have protested the Line 3 renovation project in recent days, arguing that it infringes on Native American land and is harmful for the environment, The New York Times reported.
Police arrest environmental activists at the Line 3 pipeline pumping station near Itasca State Park in Minnesota on Monday. (Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images)
“To see people engaging in personal risk like this, and to see so many young people and folks of all walks of life, it’s so beautiful and powerful,” Tara Houska, founder of the organization Giniw Collective, told MPR News. “It’s an incredible moment.”
Nearly 180 people have been arrested and booked while 68 have been issued citations in connection with the Line 3 protests since Monday, the Northern Lights Task Force (NLTF) said in a Facebook post on Wednesday. The NLTF, a group comprised of several Minnesota police departments, was established to enforce the law during pipeline protests.
“The NLTF supported those who wished to lawfully exercise their First Amendment Rights,” the task force said in the post. “When the NLTF started to see comments on social media that there was a goal of forcing confrontation with law enforcement, resulting in the arrest of 1,000 people, plans were made for the possibility of mass arrests.”
“The hope was that those plans would not be acted on and people would remain peaceful and law abiding,” the task force said.
Last year, after Harris endorsed the MFF, it was revealed that the fund had bailed out six men accused of domestic violence, including several who alleged to have sexually assaulted a child. The MFF has also assisted individuals accused of a range of other crimes from assaulting an elderly woman to stabbing their aunt with a knife.
Harris hasn’t deleted her tweet and the link she embedded, which directs people to a Democratic fundraising portal, remained active as of Wednesday evening. (RELATED: Sierra Club Protests Energy Group’s Event By Conducting Flyover With Gas-Powered Airplane)
The MFF was established in 2016 to “maximize” the number of people released from jail through the payment of bonds, according to its website.