The Sierra Club has requested the state Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) deny a license application by Arizona-based Bulletproof Securities. Its military-style guards had been stationed by Gogebic Taconite (GTAC) to protect its North Woods mining site, but were removed after it was discovered that security firm was not licensed in Wisconsin.
GTAC claims the masked guards were needed after a June incident, caught on video, which depicts masked protestors threatening the safety of workers and their families.
“There are plenty of local in-state security guards that could’ve been hired. There could’ve been more coordination, I think, with local law enforcement,” says Shahla Werner, director of the Sierra Club John Muir Chapter. She is also concerned about the possibility of tourists being injured as the project is located in an area open to public recreation. The group is also asking the Iron County District Attorney’s office to criminally charge GTAC.
Iron County D.A. Marty Lipske says any possible charges would involve more investigation and information from state officials on the company’s licensing violations.
Lipske says a Wisconsin security firm would alleviate the licensing issue, but adds the aggressiveness of the demonstrators gives “some legitimacy” to GTAC’s response. He cites the actions documented in the criminal complaint of 26-year-old Katie Kloth whose alleged group of protesters threatened mine site workers and their families. He says they are seeking information about the identities of the other demonstrators.
Lipske says he’d like all parties involved to go forward in a manner that is “non-threatening, non-violent, and non-destructive.”
DSPS confirmed it received a complaint from the Sierra Club.