A man in Minnesota was arrested by police on Wednesday for trespassing . . . on his own property. Welcome to the new America, people, where the rights to ‘life, liberty, and property’ cover none of the above. In this case the problem stems from a dispute over a pipeline easement. Enbridge Energy Partners, owner of the pipeline, wanted to expand its easement. Jeremy Engelking, the property owner, did not want the easement expanded.
It’s a simple dispute, really. Both sides must abide by whatever the terms were of the original easement (from 1949, in this case). If the original terms allowed unilateral expansion of the easement, then Enbridge can expand it without Engelking’s approval. If the original terms did not allow for this, then Enbridge and Engelking must come to some agreement or find a way to work within the original terms..
Either way, however, Engelking committed no apparent crime in being on his own property—and he certainly wasn’t trespassing! Maybe it’s illegal in Minnesota to interfere with a utility company doing work on an easement (regardless of any separate issues relating to that easement), and if so maybe that’s actionable, but what kind of despotic local government would arrest somebody for being on their own land?
Oh, and speaking of property rights, isn’t it nice that we live in a country where unelected, unaccountable homeowners’ associations can?