On January 9, 2021 at 9:30 am, approximately 100 persons showed up to the 59000 block of Great River Road (Aitkin County Road 10) to oppose the installation of a pipeline in that area. Many additional people continued to show up and it is estimated that the total number was in excess of 150. Many of these individuals arrived on two buses and numerous personal vehicles.
They were met by Aitkin County Sheriff’s Department staff who took the time to explain to them the areas clearly marked as the 1 st Amendment rights area. This is a large area where people can exercise their 1 st Amendment rights while remaining safe from traffic and machinery.
The protesters ignored this instruction and took over a section of Great River Road and refused to move.
For the safety of these people, traffic on that roadway was stopped and diverted by law enforcement personnel. Further conversations attempting to remove the people from the roadway failed. While at this area, a sign-up sheet was present for people to sign up to be arrested, along with a phone
number for who to contact after arrest. It is unknown how many people actually signed this document.
At approximately 1:40 pm, the protesters got back onto buses and into their cars and left the area. They proceeded to travel to Hwy 169 just south of Hill City to another construction area. They got out again and interfered with construction personnel. Law enforcement staff spoke with protesters in hopes of having them move away from the work area and the equipment for their safety. They refused to do this and blocked Hwy 169. After several
attempts to speak with them, dispersal orders were given. Many people followed that directive, but many stayed.
8 adults were subsequently arrested and transported to the Aitkin County Jail where they were booked. 7 people were booked for Gross Misdemeanor Trespass on Critical Infrastructure and 1 was cited and released for Failing to Leave an Unlawful Assembly. There were 6 males and 2 females arrested.