It sounds like a scene out of a political potboiler: Mysterious duffel bags of cash, often full of hundred-dollar bills, being brought in to bail out protesters. Sometimes, the amount of cash can exceed $50,000. And the locked-up protesters don’t need to call a single person.
It’s not a work of fiction, though. This is what’s happening in Minnesota, where the reports say huge sums of hard money are being used to get environmentalist protesters who object to the construction of the Line 3 pipeline replacement out of jail.
According to Alpha News, a conservative online news outlet based in Minnetonka, Minnesota, hundreds of demonstrators have been arrested across the state after various acts of vandalism and trespassing, including several protesters from outside Minnesota.
Line 3 is the newest cause célèbre among the environmentalist left now that Keystone XL is, for all intents and purposes, dead and buried.
As noted by the Minnesota Post, an online news outlet considered to have a more liberal bent, this is somewhat different — with the Line 3 replacement being “intended to replace a smaller existing pipeline that first began operating in the 1960s that is aging, corroding and considered a dangerous spill risk.”
A pipeline project’s a pipeline project, though — and, for some people, they won’t be happy until there isn’t a solitary drop of oil flowing through a single segment of pipe.
The Line 3 protesters have taken to calling themselves “water protectors,” chaining themselves construction equipment or destroying property. In Aitkin County, protesters from out of state were arrested after they dropped spikes on access roads.
According to Alpha News, the Northern Lights Task Force — a coalition of law enforcement agencies in northern Minnesota — reported the protesters dropped the spikes with “the sole purpose to damage tires and property of anyone traveling on the roadway.”
The protesters also blocked private property “with the apparent intent to inconvenience the residents of Aitkin County.”
In a July 6 Facebook post reporting the arrests of six protesters, the Task Force stated that two were from California, and one each were from Iowa, Massachusetts and Wisconsin. (One was a homegrown Minnesotan, for what it’s worth.)
“Three individuals locked themselves down using devices known as ‘sleeping dragons,'” the Northern Lights Task Force reported. “These individuals went a step further than merely locking themselves down; they had filled the sleeping dragons with feces. Truly an unhealthy and unsanitary act meant to harass those tasked with extrication.”
Part of the problem, Hubbard County Sheriff Cory Aukes in a letter to constituents published July 5, is protesters that get bailed out “time and time again” with the duffel bags stuffed with cash.
“As your Sheriff’s Office continue to arrest those that are committing crimes at various pipeline sites, we are finding ourselves arresting 20, 30, and up to 180 at a time,” Aukes wrote.
“What is amazing to me is the process after an arrest is made. The Judge ultimately sets bail for those that are charged with a crime. Time and time again, a protester makes a phone call and someone shows up with a duffel bag full of cash to bail them out.”
In one case, someone came in with $52,000 to bail protesters out. On another occasion, Aukes said, 18 arrested protesters with bail ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 each were bailed out in one fell swoop — all with cash.
“They are obviously well funded,” Aukes wrote.
It’s not difficult to follow the money here. According to Alpha News, the Pipeline Legal Action Network, which represents the Line 3 protesters, has said its supporters should give their money to the Minnesota Freedom Fund, which is “committed to supporting the movement for all bail needs.”
You may remember the Minnesota Freedom Fund as the organization that bailed out those mostly peaceful protesters during the riots in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis last year.
The group, lauded by celebrities and left-leaning politicians across the country — including then-Sen. Kamala Harris — raised more than $30 million between Floyd’s death on May 25 and when The New York Times reported on it on June 16, just three weeks later.
There was some controversy over the fact that, when The Times filed that report, only about $200,000 had actually been disbursed in bail money. However much it spent was still too much.
Among those sprung by the MFF was a man accused of sexually assaulting an 8-year-old girl, another accused of assaulting a 71-year-old woman inside her home as he burgled it and another who was charged with assaulting and robbing someone on the streets of Minneapolis the same day Floyd died.
One protester who was bailed out was charged with attempted murder after allegedly shooting at police during the riots, according to KMSP-TV in Minneapolis. Another had been charged with stabbing a friend to death.
And that’s where the Line 3 bailouts have one thing in common with a good political potboiler: The money trail leads straight to the White House.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) June 1, 2020
In the interim period between failed presidential candidate and being the president-in-waiting to a doddering chief executive, Harris became arguably the highest-profile shill for the Minnesota Freedom Fund, asking her supporters to “help post bail for those protesting on the ground in Minnesota.”
They’re still doing that, it appears.
In political potboilers, the bad guys tend to get theirs in the end. Sadly, we’ve been waiting for that since the Minnesota Freedom Fund first came to our attention last year. From all appearances, they’re stronger than ever. The finale here will likely resemble a noir, instead:
Forget it, Jake. It’s northern Minnesota.
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