A Minnesota judge ruled that criminalizing Enbridge Line 3 water protectors would be a crime.

by Alleen Brown, Exposed by CMD

In a remarkable ruling last Thursday, a Minnesota judge summarily dismissed misdemeanor charges against three Anishinaabe water protectors who had protested at a pipeline construction site in an effort to stop the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline. “To criminalize their behavior would be the crime,” she concluded.

Judge Leslie Metzen relied on a rarely used Minnesota statute that allows a judge to dismiss a case if doing so furthers “justice.” She assessed that in this case justice meant throwing out charges against Anishinaabe people committed to preserving their treaty lands. “The court finds that it is within the furtherance of justice to protect the defendants peacefully protesting to protect the land and water,” she wrote. 

A defiant Line 3 protester raises her fist in an effort to shut down the Line 3 oil pipeline.

“I’ve never seen a judge dismiss a case in the name of justice,” said Claire Glenn, a staff attorney at the Climate Defense Project, who was part of the defense team for the water protectors. She said that research undertaken by the legal team found very few cases where the statute had been cited previously. 

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