Professional activists flock to Line 3 protests with financial backing from the Minnesota Freedom Fund

Hundreds of people trespassed onto the site of the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline replacement project yesterday, chaining themselves to bulldozers, excavators, and other construction equipment, reports MPR News.

Media reports have largely portrayed these anti-pipeline protesters as grassroots activists, but many of these activists belong to well-funded environmental groups like with the backing of leftist legal defense groups like the Line 3 Legal Defense Fund, and the Minnesota Freedom Fund, which has also bailed out defendants from Twin Cities jails charged with murder, violent felonies and sex crimes, according to Fox 9 News.

According to the website for the Line 3 Legal Defense Fund:

Line 3 Legal Defense Fund

Who We Are, What We Do, and How To Access the Fund

Last Updated: February 17, 2021

The Line 3 Legal Defense Fund provides support to people facing arrest, jail time, and state repression because of their opposition to Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline expansion project. Our board is run out of Minneapolis and consists of six volunteers drawn from various groups in the Movement to Stop Line 3. We meet regularly and operate using a democratic decision-making model.   

What We Do

We provide funds to assist arrestees with financial support for their legal cases. This currently only includes legal and attorney fees and transportation costs. 

Our legal fees guidelines can be found here. Please review it before requesting funds. 

Generally, we are dispersing funds for attorney fees to attorneys directly. If you have retained an attorney, either by yourself or via movement resources, your attorney can apply for funds here

As a reminder, we have limited funds per person, and it is possible we will not provide the full amount for an attorney’s costs, and will only provide what we have delineated in our guidelines.

If you or your attorney have expenses you would like to apply for reimbursement for, you can do so here. (Please know that receipts will be required; photos of receipts are acceptable).

If you have the capacity or ability to pay for your own fees or fundraise for your own case, we strongly encourage it.

All of these financial guidelines are dependent upon the fund’s financial situation at the time of the request, and we cannot guarantee all requests will be honored. This is a general dispersal policy and is a response to our currently limited resources. Exceptions can be made, and we expect the policy will change as we continue to fundraise.

What We Don’t Do   

We do not provide bail support. The Minnesota Freedom Fund has committed to supporting the movement for all bail needs. 

If you are seeking assistance with bail, please directly contact Minnesota Freedom Fund by completing a request for bail assistance. Jail support for your action should establish communication with MFF prior to your action occurring. 

We do not provide jail support. Whenever possible, this role should be assigned ahead of time between trusted comrades who will be in the vicinity of a direct action.    

We do not provide legal advice or representation. Any legal decisions should be made in the confidence of an attorney and friends/family.

We do not fundraise for individual cases. Our fund is available to the entire movement, and our obligation is ensuring that there is as much money available for as many people as possible for emergencies and other eventualities. In the event that the costs associated with an individual’s case exceed our funding capacity, separate fundraising should be arranged to directly support that case.

The fact that pipeline protestors know their legal fees will be covered by outside organizations undermines the narrative that the protests are grassroots, rather than AstroTurf, opponents of the project.

While the legal defense funding is an interesting wrinkle to a developing story, at the end of the day, the most important thing to know about the Line 3 is that the pipeline was approved by state regulators because it meets the scientific standards established to protect the environment. It will reduce the chances of an oil spill and transport more of the energy we rely upon every day, more efficiently.

Anti-pipeline activists who worry about climate change should be far more worried about the fact that China built the equivalent of 40 Minnesota coal plants last year alone, rather than protest the replacement of an aging oil pipeline.