Athenians Gather in Solidarity with Minnesota Indigenous Line #3 Pipeline Resistance
Athens, OH 3-29-21 – A coalition led by Ohio Youth for Climate Justice and ACFAN (Athens County’s Future Action Network, formerly Athens County Fracking Action Network) held a teach-in and rally on Monday in solidarity with Indigenous, women-led resistance to Enbridge’s Line #3 pipeline being built across northern Minnesota. Indigenous groups, including Honor the Earth and Stop the Money Pipeline, have called for events around the nation to support the frontlines. Close to 50 people gathered to learn about the pipeline that will carry tar sands oil from Canada to Lake Superior. Speakers read statements from Indigenous leaders that described how the project violates treaty rights, is the target of Indigenous legal appeals, and is destroying wild rice lakes and thus Indigenous livelihoods and culture. Pipeline construction is also highly correlated with increased rates of human trafficking and rape for Indigenous communities in the surrounding area.
Construction is being opposed in direct actions that have resulted in hundreds of arrests. Cusi Ballew, a Millfield resident and member of the Pokagon band of the Potawatomi Nation, told the crowd, “Last week 28 water protectors were arrested while engaging in direct action and prayer against Line 3. We can’t wait for presidents, bankers, or governors to have a change of heart about fossil fuels. Anishinaabe water protectors are asking people everywhere to join the fight, to put themselves out of their comfort zone and take mass action to stop this and every pipeline on stolen land.”
The group’s speeches and signs targeted Chase Bank specifically as “the largest fossil fuel funder in the world and a $1.8 billion dollar funder of Enbridge over the past five years”  and called on Chase to cancel its funding of Enbridge and Line 3. Athens High School senior Julia Weber, an event organizer and the Athens Lead for event co-host, Ohio Youth for Climate Justice, stated, “Ohio Youth for Climate Justice stands with those on the front lines of the fight to defund the Line 3 pipeline and protect our Earth. As a climate justice organizer, I understand the importance of solidarity between communities, so I am here today in order to protect our resources and hold those involved with this project accountable.”
Heather Cantino, ACFAN steering committee chair and initiator of this event, stated, “Athens joins many thousands of people calling on ‘Climate President’ Biden and Congress to cancel the project and on Chase to stop funding this climate-destroying project. The Line 3 tar sands pipeline will endanger 800 bodies of water and emit as much carbon as fifty new coal plants.” Roxanne Groff urged people to take their money out of Chase Bank: “Profiting from the destruction of our planet should be a crime. Removing our money from banks with investments in fossil fuels will help end ecological disasters.”
After the teach-in, part of the crowd walked across Court Street to line the front of Chase Bank with banners and signs while Athens residents Judy Smucker and recent homeschool graduate Rio Dennis delivered two Letters to Chase to defund Line 3 to bank officials. Judy reported back to the group that the man who took the letter was very polite and said he’d look into the issue.
When asked why she helped organize the event, Smucker, grandmother to two Athens City Schools children, stated, “The harm we create today will affect future generations tomorrow – our children and our grandchildren. We care for Mother Earth, and Mother Earth cares for us – it is the Heart of everything. Right now we know our land is saying ‘Help.’ We can’t comfort ourselves by saying it’s going to be ok.”
Earlier this month, ACFAN was one of 370 organizations, representing more than ten million people, to sign onto a letter to President Biden calling on him to cancel Line 3. “We urge you to direct the Army Corps of Engineers to immediately reevaluate and suspend or revoke the Line 3 project’s Clean Water Act Section 404 permit,” the groups wrote. “Additionally, we urge you to revoke or amend Line 3’s presidential permit, as you did for Keystone XL, to make it clear that the permit does not authorize this massive expansion.”
 Sheila Regan, “’It’s Cultural Genocide’: Inside the Fight to Stop a Pipeline on Tribal Lands,” The Guardian, 19 Feb 2021; Dan Kraker, “Ojibwe Bands Ask for Halt on Line 3 Construction,” Minnesota Public Radio, 30 December 2020
photo credit (first photo): Alejandro Figueroa/The New Political