December 1st of last year marked the start of construction of the Line 3 pipeline project. It also marked a huge uptick in protests against the long-planned pipeline.

Minnesotans in the Northern part of the state endured hundreds of protests and mass arrest events over the past year with nearly 1,000 protesters being arrested for their illegal activity. From halting construction and damaging equipment or property to corralling and threatening pipeline workers and police officers, the crimes of these individuals are wide-ranging.

A recent online push by Line 3 opposition groups is attempting to rally support to get Governor Walz and AG Ellison to “drop the charges” against the nearly thousand folks charged in these crimes.

But the fact of the matter is that these individuals absolutely need to be held accountable. Many of them are repeat offenders and professional protestors who participated with the overall intent on requiring police intervention and being arrested. By dropping the charges, that only encourages them to continue with their efforts and show them that they will not have consequences for their future illegal actions.

Their activities led to first responders being pulled out of town and wasted precious time and resources. They’ve created overworked legal systems and full jails. All that stress and chaos they caused while committing illegal activities should not just be wiped away.

At a time when public safety and accountability is a top issue around the nation, it is certainly not the time to double down on easing charges. So, despite the efforts, we should absolutely not drop the charges simply because they have requested so.

Chuck Novak

Mayor of Ely,

Retired

Ely, MN

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