17 April 2021

Stop Line 3 and demand just policing

I took my kids with me to join the Climate Justice Initiative’s protest at the State Capitol building this weekend. I joined my well-known Twin Cities activist friends at the Anti-War Committee, Women Against Military Madness and Veterans for Peace. And we were also joined by AFSCME Council 5, Interfaith Power and Light and the Civilian Police Accountability Commission. It was unfortunately not a very large turnout, but we made our presence known and felt. Why did we attend, though?

Because we need accountability. The climate crisis and the more immediate threat that Line 3 poses to drinking water, animal habitats and tribal lands not only in Minnesota but through the entire Mississippi Basin are bad enough. But they cannot be disentangled easily from a host of other issues. The fact that Twin Cities area police feel they are obligated to defend the corporate profits of a Canadian energy company over the literal lives and livelihoods of Twin Cities residents – particularly those with brown or red or yellow skin – tells us something none too complimentary about their priorities and lack of accountability. The fact that said Canadian energy company feels empowered to cynically mobilise liberal distrust of Russia against environmentalists here at home tells us something about our culture’s messed-up priorities and imperialistic hubris. And the fact that again the indigenous Dakota and Ojibwe peoples are not being heard and that the treaties that give them rights to the land are still being violated by state and federal governments tells us that we are still dealing with entrenched disparities of power that completely override substantive considerations of justice.

I would also say, as a religious conservative – though I understand full well that this may not be a popular position among the people I attended the protest with – that these issues are also tied to life issues. The collapse of time horizons that accompanies the sorts of short-sighted actions like building a tar sands pipeline under the Mississippi headwaters, is related to and indeed is a function of our cultural disrespect of and inconsideration of the future generations: the human children who are as yet unborn. Yes: I consider the unborn to be human, with the right to life. And water is life. I went to that protest because I don’t only want my daughter and my son to have clean fresh water to drink and clean air to breathe, but because I want the children that they will have someday to enjoy the same things. Even if, as Enbridge’s mendacious public relations and advertising campaign threatens, that means less energy for me now, or higher prices at the pump for me now, so be it. I can bear such a deprivation. I dare not presume that they can bear theirs, inflicted by my (and my parents’) generation’s short-sightedness.

So yes. As an Orthodox Christian in the city of St Alexis, I say it aloud: Stop Line 3. Protect our water. Honour our treaties. End Russophobia and the New Cold War. End the wars – full stop. No more stolen sisters. Justice for Jamar, for Philando, for George, for Daunte. End the killings in the womb. All of these things are connected, and we cannot fix a culture of death selectively.


  1. While I'm still not sure what Line 3 is, you make it sound like it is a good idea to stop it.

  2. Thank you, Steve!

    Basically, Line 3 is a tar sands pipeline that a Canadian energy conglomerate is planning to build through tribal lands and the Mississippi River headwaters. If it's built, it will be an ecological disaster waiting to happen.