Armed, masked paramilitary forces surrounded the Gogebic Taconite mining site in the Penokee mountains in Wisconsin during the weekend.
“I’m appalled,” state Sen. Bob Jauch (D) told The Wisconsin State Journal on Monday. “There is no evidence to justify their presence.”
Jaunch sent a letter to Gogebic Taconite on Monday demanding they remove the guards, which he said were “common in third world countries," but "don’t belong in Northern Wisconsin.”
“Do they have the authority to use those weapons? If so, on who?” Jauch said to The Wisconsin State Journal. “I don’t know if there’s a hunting season right now except maybe for rabbit, but you shoot a rabbit with that, all you’ll end up with is fur. What would you use those weapons for except to hurt somebody?”
Gogebic Taconite spokesman Bob Seitz said the armed guards were brought in because of problems with environmental protesters and people camping illegally, but added: “I’m not very concerned about what [weapons] a security firm selects. They have to provide a safe workplace for their people, too.”
However, if someone is shot, Gogebic Taconite would be held legally responsible.
Gogebic Taconite hired the company Bulletproof Securities to provide the paramilitary forces. Bulletproof Securities claims that many of their employees are ex-military.
Video (below) shot over the weekend by Indian Country TV showed one of the paramilitaries wearing camouflage and a military-style net over his face.
“What happened to your fancy guns?” the Indian Country cameraman asks the man. “Look at that. Very close by. Who are you going to shoot? You’re being caught up in a national phenomenon. We’ve got reporters calling from all over the country wondering about the occupation of Penokee Mountains Heritage Park by people who’ve got automatic weapons. And the question is, ‘Why?’”