Armed Guards Leave Penokee Hills: Could Return

By KBJR News 1

July 11, 2013 Updated Jul 11, 2013 at 12:33 AM CDT

Mellen, WI (NNCNOW.com) - Scenes of armed guards in the Penokee hills of Wisconsin have sparked fear and outrage from mining protesters.

"A Security force dressed in desert storm outfits with military type trucks carrying either semi–automatic weapons, or automatic weapons and wandering around the hills," said Frank Koehn, president of the Penokee Hills education project.

Gogebic Taconite, the company that's planning to build an Iron Ore mine in Ashland and Iron Counties, brought in Arizona–based security company "Bulletproof Securities" to watch over the drilling sites.

Senator Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) spoke out Wednesday against the move saying GTAC should pull the armed guards.

"In order to show respect for the citizens who were horrified by the images, and regard for the law, that Gogebic would go ahead and do the right thing and go ahead and hire Wisconsin citizens in a Wisconsin firm that is legally licensed to provide these services" said Jauch.

State Officials confirmed Wednesday the security company has been illegally providing services in Wisconsin without the proper licensing.

In a statement sent out Wednesday, GTac President Bill Williams said the company understands Bulletproof Securities has applied for the appropriate Wisconsin license, but the applications haven't been approved yet.

Because of that, Williams says GTac suspended the use of this company's services until the applications are approved.

Mining opponents report seeing the guards leaving the area.

"They are armed guards, they are corporate mercenaries, corporate vigilante men, and we are very happy they are on their way out of Wisconsin as we speak," said Nick Vanderpuy, an occupant of the Penokee Hill's Harvest Camp.

Nevertheless, GTac officials say they plan to continue having a security presence in the Penokee Hills.

Posted to the web by Kati Anderson.
kanderson@kbjr.com