CLOQUET, Minn. -- While authorities waited for a bomb squad to arrive Friday, Feb. 19, after “suspicious” packages were allegedly thrown into a pipeline construction area west of Cloquet, members of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa had seen enough.
They started blocking protesters known as “water protectors” from reaching their camp located on Magney Drive.
“It’s getting dangerous out here,” one woman said, declining to give her name and referring reporters to Danielle Martineau, 42, who was leading a group of tribal members, many of them school-age, as it confronted protesters and stood outside the entrance to the camp, calling for it to break up and telling protesters to go home.
“I’m very upset,” Martineau said. “People are scared. It’s time to draw the line.”
Authorities blocked the entrance to nearby Ditchbank Forest Road, off Big Lake Road, while they waited for a bomb squad. Authorities released people back to their homes shortly after 5 p.m.
Martineau is the sister of Taysha Martineau, a founder of Camp Migizi, a gathering place for opponents of Enbridge Line 3 not far from the incident location.
Taysha Martineau said she wasn't at the protest, but that the allegations of a bomb were untrue.
"We do not own any explosives. We do not believe in endangering anybody's lives. We would not put anyone in a position where they're in immediate risk or danger," Martineau said.
A protester at the camp, Alex Golden-Wolf, 25, said tribal members blocking entrance to the camp were upset at the wrong people.
“We’re here to protect their land,” said Golden-Wolf, who said she was a member of the White Earth Nation in northwest Minnesota.
But Danielle Martineau said enough was enough. The pipeline has been approved, she said, and some tribal members are part of the crews working on the project. The presence of the water protectors and their regular protest actions was disruptive to the community, especially elders and children, she said.
“Unless they have a Fond du Lac ID like this one,” Danielle Martineau said, holding up her identification card, “they’re not getting through.”
The Carlton County Sheriff's Office asked people to evacuate the area west of Cloquet and north of Big Lake after "suspicious" packages were thrown in the area of protest opposed to Enbridge's Line 3 oil pipeline. The public was being asked to stay away from the area.
The Perch Lake Town Hall was being used as a shelter for those who needed to evacuate, but only one woman and her two young children were found there.
“I just wanted to keep my cool for my children,” said Willow Councillor, 28, who was escorted to the town hall by authorities who asked her to leave her home.
At 11:59 a.m. Friday, the Fond du Lac Police Department responded to a protest blocking Ditchbank Forest Road, according to a release from the sheriff's office. As people were leaving the area, dispatch received a call saying that three people had thrown suspicious packages and left the area.
Camp Migizi is located near the crossing where the bomb threat was called in.
Enbridge spokesperson Juli Kellner said in a statement that workers called in the "suspicious device" and that all pipelines along the route have been shut down out of caution.
"Today, workers on Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Project observed a group of protesters, one of whom threw a suspicious device onto the construction site," Kellner said. "The protesters then rushed to drive away from the scene. Our workers reported the incident to local authorities, and have been evacuated from the site as emergency responders investigate."
The company intends on prosecuting protesters who put people in danger, Kellner said.
Duluth News Tribune reporters Jimmy Lovrien and Andee Erickson contributed to this report.