Peace Pipeline: Duluth-based Yes Men video takedown of Line 3

My brother Allen Richardson and I were “Yes Men” for a day. This is how the amazing project went down.

Allen’s activist network plugged him into this “Yes Men” Line 3 takedown (Executive Producer: Winona LaDuke), and he looped me in, making it a Richardson Brothers escapade. Basically a cell of like six Yes Men showed up with two Indigenous comedians, Gitz Crazyboy and Tito Ybarra, who were the film’s directors. Allen was their local point man, and I was Allen’s wingman. The gag was to reverse the pipeline situation onto white people and this film succeeds completely, a media prank masterstroke.

Allen may be recognized unmasked, in character credited as “Stu Graves” throughout @9:20-13:30, and also as a “Field Producer”. The best work of his career is between 10:20- 11:42. I am masked, as are the other Yes Men (besides the camerapeople etc), in full hazmat suits. The two bulkier hazmat suits are ours, part of our costume library for years. I am credited as a “Sacred Remains Specialist.”

Allen’s white pickup was made up as the sacred remains recovery vehicle. At 11:44 we trotted made-up coffins to it in front of a Sunday service, provoking an incident that laid bare the politics of moving remains for commerce. It took giant eggs to plan a stunt like this and I was proud to be a part of it. My apologies to those whose day was ruined, but you gotta break a few eggs to make an omelette. We got pulled over by the cops afterwards, who were alerted during the stunt, and played it off legit. The footage didn’t make the final cut, but I remember when they pulled us over (we were in two vehicles) the Yes Men camerapeople poured out of the vehicles, and one of the cops said, “Sure, you can film this, thanks for asking…”

It was I who suggested filming in Forest Hill Cemetery after our first cemetery location didn’t work out.

We are in the hilarious “no dumping” scene from 15:15 to 16:11.

During the “public Facebook post” segment from 16:11-16:42, a concerned citizen got video of Allen’s truck parked downtown with two made-up coffins in it. The footage caught fire on social media; Allen’s truck had parked across Pizza Luce and he and I and the Yes Men crew (about half men really) were in there having pizza. [UPDATE: those coffins are still making a stir.]

“Craft Services” are credited to Duluthians Jillian Forte and Kirsten Aune.


John Hartman

about 3 years ago

Hats off to these creative disruptors.  Almost nothing is as joyous as watching the stunned, stupefied looks on the faces of the White folks as they see their comfortable little lives mocked.  The message is the most important, but the methods used to deploy the message are simply wonderful.

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