Activists are Protesting a Pipeline. A DHS Helicopter Blasted Them With Debris.

Anti-pipeline protestors outside the state capitol in St. Paul, Minnesota in MarchTim Evans/NurPhoto/Zuma

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In an apparent attempt to disperse a crowd of people protesting the construction of an oil pipeline in Minnesota, a Department of Homeland Security helicopter hovered above protesters yesterday, showering them with dust and debris.

Authorities denied that the dust storm was intentional and claimed that the helicopter had been sent to order the crowd to disperse, the Intercept reports. Still, low-flying helicopters are a common police tactic to intimidate protestors.

The demonstrators were engaging in civil disobedience against the construction of an oil pipeline that threatens to contaminate Mississippi River headwaters on Ojibwe tribal lands. Enbridge, the Canadian company building the pipeline, says new construction is necessary to replace the existing leaky and corroded crude oil pipeline. But the new pipeline will follow a different route, which activists say could harm the wild rice, sacred to the Ojibwe, grown in the area. (A spokesperson for the company also chided protesters for trespassing to the Intercept, comparing it to the attack on the Capitol on January 6.)

The protestors are also calling on President Biden to stop the construction of the pipeline, which mostly replaces an existing pipeline, as he did the Keystone XL pipeline his first week in office. Nevertheless, construction has continued, and the pipeline is more than halfway completed.

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