Enbridge pipeline valve turners appear in Itasca County Court

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GRAND RAPIDS, MN —  Four Catholic Workers are facing two separate charges after attempting to shutdown an Enbridge pipeline Monday.

Spokeswoman Diane Leutgeb Monson says the “Four Necessity Valve Turners” group broke into Enbridge property, then called to warn the company of their plans to turn off the Line 4 pipeline.

Enbridge went on to shut the line down themselves, believing that the protesters were putting both the public and the environment at risk.

On Wednesday, all four defendants appeared in court for the first time.

Before heading into the courthouse, husband of one of the defendants Greg Boertje-Obed said his wife was ready to face any of the consequences that came her way.

“She’s prepared to spend some time in jail,” Boertje-Obed said. “She does not want to pay bail. There’s a chance that the bail would be reduced if they are in for a while.”

In the court room Wednesday, an Itasca County judge read the charges to each defendant separately. The more serious of the two: Aiding and abetting attempted damage to pipeline property with a maximum sentence of 5 years behind bars and/or a $10,000 fine.

“This court appearance was both hope-filled and grave in that these four brave humans do face felony charges, which could mean up to 5 years in prison,” Leutgeb Monson said.

All four were released without bail, but on strict conditions, agreeing to not have any contact with Enbridge and be present in all future hearings.

“At the same time, this also gives them the opportunity to stand in front of a jury of their peers, and put their case about the imminence of climate in front of people who may hear the gravity of this situation in a way our government has not been able to,” Leutgeb Monson said.

Group members say they hope to catch Enbridge’s attention and put an end to what they call the current “climate crisis.”

“I believe in humanity, and I believe those decision-makers,” Daniel Yildium said. “I think they’re going to make the right decision eventually. I really hope they do for their own sake, and for all of our children’s sakes.”

The next court appearance for all four defendants is scheduled for February 19th.

Meanwhile, Enbridge has come out with a statement in response to the incident, saying: “While we respect the rights of individuals to safely express their views on the energy we all use, we take these matters very seriously and support the prosecution of all those involved.”

We have attached the criminal complaint below. All four are facing the same charges.

Gamiel Hall

Gamiel Hall

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