UPDATE: Protest at Enbridge property in Bemidji, Minn., ends
BEMIDJI -- Anti-oil pipeline activists tied themselves to a flagpole outside of Enbridge energy company’s Bemidji office through most of the day Saturday, Sept. 23.
Garrett Lampson, 25, of White Earth and a fellow activist who asked to be identified only as “T” said they arrived at the building at about 3 a.m. Saturday, planning to remain at the site for 24 hours.
Lampson and “T” sat zip-tied to the pole, wrapped in blankets Saturday morning. Others stood in front of a small fire. The group had painted slogans on windows of a building next door to the Enbridge offices.
About eight others, who refer to themselves as water protectors, were also present as of 9:30 a.m. Saturday.
Bemidji police and Beltrami County deputies arrived at about 8 a.m. Activists described the police presence as “friendly.”
The group remained at the location in the city’s Industrial Park throughout the day, but the scene was deserted by 7 p.m. At about 6:30 p.m., Lampson, in a Facebook Live post, said they were ending the demonstration and cleaning up the slogans painted on the windows and on a brick Enbridge sign. “I think we achieved what we were trying to do here today,” he said in the post. “We spread our message.”
Earlier Saturday, Lampson said he and others were protesting Enbridge in general, rather than a specific pipeline. The Canadian energy company owns a number of oil pipelines and is currently working on a controversial effort to replace the aging Line 3 that flows from Canada and will cross Minnesota on its way to Wisconsin.
“We want to point out the fact that they are and have been for years lying to the American people...and practicing immoral business practices,” Lampson said.
In a statement provided to the Pioneer on Saturday morning, an Enbridge spokesperson said the company “recognizes the importance of engagement with Tribal nations.”
“At the same time, we will not tolerate activities that threaten the safety, security and integrity of our facilities,” the statement said. “A peaceful protest could be held anywhere, but trespassing requires the involvement of local law enforcement.”
At about 10 a.m. two Bemidji officers approached the group and said Enbridge would allow them to remain tied to the poll for 24 hours. Officers said the rest of the protesters must stay off Enbridge’s property, because the company is concerned about the protest getting too large.
The spokesperson said Enbridge officials have been in frequent contact with law enforcement regarding the protest. “A decision to remove the individuals from the property may be made at any time given any number of factors, especially safety,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
The Enbridge office has been the site of civil disobedience in the past. In 2013, Angie Palacio, of Bemidji, was arrested after handcuffing herself to the building’s front door. In February, police investigated after shots were fired at the office’s front door and windows. No connection was made between the shooting and anti-pipeline protesters.