“Security personnel at the U.S. Department of the Interior sustained “multiple injuries,” according to spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz in the Washington Post, after left-wing protesters held the agency headquarters under siege on Thursday.
Fifty-five protesters were arrested in the turmoil, the demonstration group People vs. Fossil Fuels said in a statement to the Post, concluding five days of activism in the nation’s capital by a coalition known as Build Back Fossil Free.
Many were protesting the completion of Minnesota’s Line 3 Pipeline carrying Canadian tar sands oil to Lake Superior. Begun in 2017, the project was ordered by the federal government to replace an old, corroding line.
“Interior Department leadership believes strongly in respecting and upholding the right to free speech and peaceful protest,” Schwartz told the paper. “It is also our obligation to keep everyone safe. We will continue to do everything we can to de-escalate the situation while honoring First Amendment rights.”
Scenes from the demonstrations captured by local Post Reporter Ellie Silverman and posted on Twitter are reminiscent of the riot at the U.S. Capitol in January, with unruly protesters cornering police in an effort to break through the entrance. One officer, Schwartz noted, was taken to the hospital.”
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People appear to be able to walk through the entrance for a moment, but police are blocking the doorway again. Those inside are sitting in a circle and holding hands. pic.twitter.com/uYI7zxwu1p
— Ellie Silverman (@esilverman11) October 14, 2021