Wis. Lawmakers Call on GTAC to Remove Armed Guards

By KBJR News 1

July 8, 2013 Updated Jul 9, 2013 at 10:17 AM CDT

Mellen, WI (NNCNOW.com) --- On Monday, Wisconsin state leaders called on Gogebic Taconite to remove heavily armed and masked guards from the Penokee Hills.

Wisconsin State Sen. Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) and Wisconsin Rep. Janet Bewley (D-Ashland) who drafted the letter, called the images of the armed, private security guards "horrifying" and are asking for their immediate removal.

In the letter sent to GTAC President Bill Williams on Monday, the legislators say the security move is nothing more than an effort to intimidate citizens.

The security guards from an undisclosed Arizona based security company, have been staked out at GTAC in the Penokee Hills for several weeks.

GTAC is currently conducting test drills in the area where they hope to construct one of Wisconsin's first modern taconite mining operations.

GTAC spokesman Bob Seitz says the company began employing the armed guards for the safety of its employees after drilling opponents allegedly attacked the drill site in June.

But site opponents say the company and some legislators don't have the public's best interest.

"The little people who don't have a voice haven't had their say in this it's been written by big corporations and big money interest and from legislature, from people who haven't been up here," said site protester Paul DeMain.

Senator Bob Jauch went on to say in the letter to GTAC, "These kinds of security forces are common in third world countries, but they don't belong in northern Wisconsin," said State Senator Bob Jauch.

According to GTAC officials they say they will keep the armed guards on duty for the foreseeable future.

Video courtesy: Paul DeMain.

Jeremy Brickley