CLEARWATER COUNTY, Minn. — Editors note: The video above originally aired on Sept. 3, 2021.
Nearly two dozen people from out of state face criminal charges after a large protest targeting the Line 3 oil pipeline project shut down a busy road in Clearwater County.
The Clearwater County Sheriff's Office says squads were dispatched shortly after 6 a.m. Tuesday to a location along 470th Street near Bagley, where between 75 and 100 people were blocking the roadway. Arriving deputies found protesters setting up a teepee, and items ranging from an overturned car and large cement-filled barrels to a boat filled with cement and rock spread out over approximately one mile.
Protesters were either attached to these items or linked together with "sleeping dragons," devices made with handcuffs and either PVC or welded metal pipe to hinder authorities from removing and arresting them.
Due to the size of the protest and the items involved sheriff's officials say they had to request additional manpower and extrication teams. The process of removing the items from the roadway and separating protesters from the sleeping dragon devices took approximately seven hours.
The Northern Lights Task Force says 23 people were arrested for their role in the protest. They are from six different states, including Massachusetts, Oregon, Maine, Illinois, South Dakota, Washington DC, New York and Texas.
All are being held in the Clearwater County Jail on probable cause public nuisance and obstructing the legal process.
The Line 3 pipeline project has been a galvanizing cause for environmental activists across the county. Opponents of the project say construction and drilling during construction threatens Minnesota's lakes, rivers and underground aquifers.
Despite regular protests and attempts to stop construction of the pipeline, Enbridge Oil officials say they expect the line to be up and running by the end of 2021.