MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- At least four protesters demonstrating against the Enbridge Energy Line 3 oil pipeline were arrested Friday at the Minnesota State Capitol following a brief standoff with law enforcement.
The arrests happened around noontime after dozens of Minnesota State Patrol troopers surrounded a teepee on the capitol mall where demonstrators were holding a ceremony, playing drums and singing traditional Native American songs.
A group called the "Water Protectors" say they were in a religious ceremony, protected by treaty rights.
Videos posted to social media showed troopers telling the protesters over loudspeaker that their permit to protest expired Thursday night, adding that they'd be arrested if they didn't leave the mall. "In order to prepare for future permitted events, you need to leave the cordoned off area immediately," the troopers said.
A number of protesters refused to leave and were arrested. According to the Minnesota Department of Safety (DPS), four people were arrested for misdemeanor trespass and two were cited and released for obstruction.
The protesters have been at the capitol since a large demonstration Wednesday, when more than 2,000 people gathered to protest against the replacement of the Enbridge Energy Line 3 oil pipeline across northern Minnesota.
The protesters say that the project is a threat to the environment and intrudes on indigenous land. On the other hand, Enbridge says that the pipeline is safe and is bringing jobs to northern Minnesota.
The pipeline is expected to be operational by the end of the year after the Minnesota Supreme Court refused earlier this week to hear an appeal.
The Minnesota State Patrol left around 1:30 p.m., ultimately allowing a few dozen people to stay out on the capitol lawn to perform their sacred ceremony.
Gina Peltier says some protesters were injured. One person was observed going out on a stretcher, but it was not clear whether that person was injured by troopers.
"We're all fighting for the same thing, for the common good of humanity. Everyone needs water to live. Water is life," she said.
Indigenous elders say they'll be there in ceremony for 40 days, or until the permits for the Line 3 pipeline are revoked.
Read the entire statement released by DPS below:
"All the teepees that were erected during the permitted events this week were removed yesterday by the event organizer, except for one. The event permit expired last evening.
"The State Patrol, which is responsible for capitol security, met with tribal liaisons, owners of the teepee and other group leaders multiple times throughout the event and after the permit expired in an effort to come to an agreement for the group to voluntarily take the teepee down. Troopers also informed the group that several other permitted events will occur at the capitol tomorrow.
"The teepee was removed by its owners while troopers provided security today. Personal property that remained at the site was also removed by members of the group.
"Some individuals were uncooperative with creating space for the teepee to come down. Four people were arrested for misdemeanor trespass and two were cited and released for obstruction."
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