AITKIN COUNTY, Minn. — Spring is bringing the heat to opponents of the Enbridge Line 3 tar-sands oil pipeline, as levels of arrests and citations for demonstrations against the private Canadian infrastructure project rise faster than at any time since construction began on it in December.

The toll on the self-proclaimed water protectors stands at more than 200, higher than for any oil pipeline opposition in the country since the Dakota Access Pipeline resistance of 2016-2017. As ground and waterways continue to thaw, increased numbers of opponents and arrests are expected.

Not all detentions in the escalating law enforcement suppression response are legal. Take Michele Naar-Obed’s recent arrest for example. She was held in custody three nights for what turned out to be a junk warrant claiming her attendance at a March 3 public action violated the conditions of her release from a previous Line 3-related charge.

Michele Naar-Obed outside Aitkin County jail, March 19, 2021COURTESY // Resist Line 3

Officers issued dozens of citations at the event, a gathering to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 1991 Line 3 oil spill in Grand Rapids, Minn. In the disaster, the line now being replaced burst and spilled 1.7 million gallons of crude oil onto the frozen Prairie River. The calamity vies with that of the Enbridge Line 6B rupture, — which flushed another million or so gallons into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in 2010 —, for the title of largest inland oil spill in U.S. history.

“I’m being accused of breaking the law for participating in First Amendment activities,” Naar-Obed told sympathizers outside the Aitkin County Jail as she went in to contest the warrant and request an audience with a judge.

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Justine AndersonEsperanza Project, water, water protectors, protests, global warming, climate change,,