One of the main critics of Gogebic Taconite’s proposed iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin is calling for those opposed to the project to avoid violence.
A video released this week shows protesters raiding an exploratory drilling site for the proposed mine, while yelling expletives at workers and snatching a cell phone. Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Chairman Mike Wiggins, Jr. says those types of confrontations are not the answer and “calmer heads must prevail” as the debate over the project continues.
Wiggins says opposition to the mine needs to focus on non-violent options, such as through litigation and using expert testimony to inform the public about the dangers posed to water resources. He warns that violence could only prompt a response from those looking to build he mine in Iron and Ashland Counties, such as the armed guards that were stationed at the site earlier this week.
AUDIO: Mike Wiggins (:44)
The release of video came just days after photos began circulating of private security guards carrying assault-style weapons in the woods surrounding the drilling sites. Wiggins says “this isn’t how people treat each other in the Northwoods,” and argues the addition of the armed detail was completely over the top. He believes the move was a public relations stunt aimed at building sympathy for the company, which backfired when Gogebic was forced to remove the guards. Gogebic suspended the use of the guards, after it was discovered the company they work for is not licensed to operate in Wisconsin.
Gogebic has insisted the private security was necessary because of an ongoing threat from protesters to personnel and equipment.