City Pages: Minneapolis protesters decry ‘suit and tie motherfuckers’ lobbying for Enbridge

cross-posted from City Pages

February 27, 2020

by Hannah Jones

The Capella office tower in downtown Minneapolis is so echoey, it was hard to ignore the protesters chanting on the second floor no matter where you were standing.

The group, carrying signs that said “STOP LINE 3” and “NO PIPELINES,” was gathered outside the elevators to Winthrop and Weinstine, a law firm way up on the 35th floor. A few people dressed in office attire skirted past them warily as they headed to lunch. A man in a tie watched the proceedings from a few yards away, occasionally muttering a few words into a walkie-talkie.

Calgary energy company Enbridge is trying to replace its massive Line 3 pipeline, which pumps oil across a large swath of northern Minnesota, with a newer, bigger pipeline.

The protesters hailed from Twin Cities Democratic Socialists of America, Northfield Against Line 3, and other anti-pipeline orgs. They argue completing the pipeline and allowing more oil (760,000 barrels a day, to be exact) to gush through the state will only add to our climate change woes. They also say it’s only a matter of time before it leaks, with potentially devastating effects on the environment and the surrounding Native communities.

The protesters explained they were in Capella and not, say, the state Capitol, because Winthrop and Weinstine lawyer Eric Swanson works as a registered lobbyist for Enbridge, and spends a lot of time testifying before the state’s Public Utilities Commission. Enbridge, in fact, was Minnesota’s biggest spender on lobbying in 2018, according to the Star Tribune, with a whopping $11.1 million spent mostly on those arguments before the PUC.

Then there’s Winthrop and Weinstine’s purported financial influence. In 2019, the law firm gave thousands of dollars to a smattering of local and state campaigns, and $25,000 to Gov. Tim Walz’s inaugural committee, according to MPR. (Unlike campaign committee donations, our state’s inaugural committees have no restrictions on who can give or how much.)

In short, the problem, one protester said into the megaphone, was “the suit and tie motherfuckers going around giving money to politicians like Tim Walz.” Shortly afterward, the man with the tie and the walkie-talkie sidled up and informed the protester that “respectful language” was used “in this building.”

Walz has been difficult to pin down on Line 3. In 2017, he tweeted that any pipeline that went through treaty lands was a “non-starter.” Then, during his campaign, he said he was “satisfied” with the PUC’s decision to move forward with the project. Last year, he continued a court appeal set by the previous administration to block the pipeline project, a decision Enbridge called “unfortunate.”

The protestors aren’t willing to celebrate until he puts his foot down.

“If you take money from the fossil fuel lobby you cannot call yourself a climate progressive and you cannot expect our support,” the group said in a statement.

Mere minutes after the chanting began, a few security guards turned up and started herding the protestors toward the doors. They went willingly, seemingly unsurprised that they were being asked to leave so soon. But as they squeezed out the front doors with their signs and megaphones, they chanted, “We’ll be back.”

Gretchen Milbrath, Winthrop and Weinstine’s director of business, said the firm respected the group’s right to protest, but wouldn’t comment on the specifics.

Statement On Police Murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

BLMRising Tide North America Statement On Police Murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

San Francisco, CA: Once again with heavy hearts Rising Tide North America released this statement on the police murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile:

“Rising Tide North America stands in solidarity with the friends and loved ones of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile,both murdered, respectively, by racist police departments in Baton Rouge, La and St. Paul, Mn.

We condemn the actions of the white officers who committed these horrible acts and the racist police state which systematically destroys the lives of black men, their families and communities of color across the country. We condemn the rhetoric of leaders in both political parties, police officials and media opinion-makers who normalize and defend this system.

We demand justice for Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

Rising Tide North America is a continental network of climate justice groups and individuals committed to challenging the root causes of climate change, including capitalism and institutional racism. We stand for social, racial, environmental and climate justice. We are committed to working with and alongside frontline communities.

We can only address climate change by exposing the intersections between the oppression of humans, communities and the planet. In order to create a livable and just future for all, we work toward the empowerment of marginalized communities and the dismantling of the systems of oppression that keep us divided.

In this moment, we call on our friends and community in the climate justice movement to join the fight for racial justice and confront white supremacy. As we’ve said before: Our fight for climate justice is inextricably connected with racial justice. We cannot have the one without the other.  

We demand justice for Alton Sterling and Philando Castile!”

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Statement of Solidarity with Black Lives Matter Minneapolis

justice

A demonstrator speaks about his encounter with attackers who shot five protesters near the Minneapolis Police 4th Precinct on Monday night.

Rising Tide North America Statement of Solidarity with Black Lives Matter Minneapolis

In response to last night’s shooting of five unarmed Black Lives Matters activists at the Justice for Jamar Clark Encampment in Minneapolis by masked white supremacists, Rising Tide North America issued the following statement:

Rising Tide North America stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter community in Minneapolis, the protest encampment demanding justice for Jamar Clark and communities everywhere in the struggle for racial justice and against white racist violence, state sponsored or otherwise. We stand in solidarity with the right of communities to express their grief and rage, and to take action for justice.

We join the call for the release of the tapes of Jamar Clark’s murder. We condemn the extreme racist and violent rhetoric of white hate groups and individuals, leaders of both political parties, police officials and opinion-makers that target the movement for Black lives. In this moment, we particularly call on members of the climate justice movement to join the fight for racial justice and put their bodies on the line to confront white supremacy — both in the form of vigilante violence and in police departments.

Rising Tide North America is a continental network of climate justice groups and individuals committed to challenging the root causes of climate change. We stand for social, racial, environmental and climate justice. We can only address climate change by exposing the intersections between the oppression of humans, communities and the planet. In order to create a livable and just future, we work toward the empowerment of marginalized communities and the dismantling of the systems of oppression that keep us divided.

On this day, the anniversary of the non-indictment of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, we still believe climate justice is inextricably linked with racial justice. We cannot have the one without the other. Our hearts and actions remain in this fight to create a just and climate stable world.”

Please donate here to support our friends and allies with Black Lives Matter Minneapolis.

Please sign the pledge to show up with Black Lives Matter and the movement for Black lives.

Read Rising Tide’s statement of solidarity with Ferguson.

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