Condemning “the imminent and irreversible damage being done to the climate” by fossil fuel extraction, four Catholic Workers took non-violent action to help stem the climate crisis on Monday in northern Minnesota, shutting off valves at Enbridge Energy Lines 3 and 4.
Allyson Polman, Brenna Cussen Anglada, Michele Naar Obed, and Daniel Yildirim were identified as the Four Necessity Valve Turners who shut off the valves. They took the action to protest the pipelines which cut through Native American reservations and jeopardize fresh water resources in the region, as well as perpetuating an energy economy reliant on fossil fuels.
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“The group acts in solidarity with the most vulnerable worldwide who suffer the greatest impact from climate change,” said the group in a press statement. “The Four Necessity Valve Turners believe it is time to take personal responsibility for preventing the dangerous expansion of the oil industry, because governments and regulators have failed to do so.”
“This act is step towards reparations for the damage that colonization has done both to the indigenous peoples of this continent and the land,” said Cussen Anglada.
The group shared a video on Facebook of the action. The demonstrators shut off the valves at about 10 minutes into the video, which has since been taken down.
The group displayed a sign reading, “The time is now for unprecedented and urgent action,” at the site where they shut off the valves.
RT @4necessity: Here’s the banner that #4Necessity #ValveTurners have installed on the Enbridge valve site in Minnesota. THE TIME IS NOW FOR UNPRECEDENTED AND URGENT ACTION. #ActOnClimate pic.twitter.com/Ic7NUuDefd
— Marla Marcum (@MarlaMarcum) February 4, 2019
The Four Necessity Valve Turners took the action despite recent reports that police in Minnesota are planning to target anti-pipeline organizers, preparing for a militarized standoff like the one that took place at Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota in 2016.
“The extraction of the tar sands oil flowing through these pipes represents an ongoing atrocity against the boreal forests of Canada,” said Yildirim. “I refuse to stand by in silence as this river of death flows through the Great Lakes region.”
The group released a statement of intent on Twitter after they shut off the valves.
“Our species stands at death’s door due to the outmoded and violent myth that some people are more important than others, and that we can live without the intricate and miraculous web of life that surrounds us,” they wrote. “Even as we approach total devastation, this myth still rages, and nowhere is it more apparent than in our own backyard.”
The police arrived on the scene shortly after the group shut down the valves, and took the valve turners into custody. On Twitter, the group asked for donations for their bail fund while numerous supporters expressed gratitude for their direct action.
Woah – this is some serious climate leadership. I find it personally inspiring that folks are putting their bodies on the line this way. Thank you. https://t.co/ldTFLU1Beq
— Janet Redman (@JanetRedman_DC) February 4, 2019
Here’s a shutdown we can really get excited about. https://t.co/JAYCyIhVxS
— Tim DeChristopher (@dechristopher) February 4, 2019
Shout out the Catholic Workers in northern Minnesota who completely shut down Enbridge’s Line 3 + 4 pipelines this morning by simply turning their valves off 🔧🤙
— Midwest Unrest (@MW_Unrest) February 4, 2019