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Penokee Hills

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Penokee Hills

Postby HawkHead » Mon Jul 08, 2013 10:01 am

Please find a link to the website United in the Defense of Water.

http://unitedindefenseofthewater.com/20 ... kee-hills/

There are now security guards armed with assault rifles patrolling one of the proposed mining sites.

It makes me sad that this is what it has come to.

Please forward, the whole state of Wisconsin needs to know what is happening up north.
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Re: Penokee Hills

Postby snoqueen » Mon Jul 08, 2013 10:12 am

Excellent page. Pass it on.

Friends up north are telling me the whole place is energized beyond belief, and this is a highly political (blue) area to begin with.

They've got a powerful coalition, are social-media wise, and above all patient. They'll need every bit of it. Good luck to 'em all.

Here's a related link to a video on News from Indian Country:

http://www.indiancountrynews.com/index. ... tains-6min

(I didn't view every single video on Hawk's link so this may be a duplicate)
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Re: Penokee Hills

Postby green union terrace chair » Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:33 pm

Even though the guard in the video looked "scary" and wouldn't answer a lot of the cameraman's questions, he was incredibly calm and relatively friendly. Cameraman was also inquisitive but cordial and not rude.
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Re: Penokee Hills

Postby david cohen » Mon Jul 08, 2013 5:07 pm

Another black mark on our pox of a Governor. I hope they are saving these images for election ads!
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Re: Penokee Hills

Postby snoqueen » Mon Jul 08, 2013 5:56 pm

The guard is just an employee, not the enemy. The problem is the company thinks they needed to hire him because they're afraid of the locals. That says a lot.
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Re: Penokee Hills

Postby Henry Vilas » Mon Jul 08, 2013 6:08 pm

Two members of the Wisconsin Legislature are asking Gogebic Taconite to remove masked security guards who are toting semi-automatic rifles and wearing camouflaged uniforms at the mining company's site in Northern Wisconsin.

News of the guards emerged over the weekend on the websites of bloggers and activists opposed to mining.

Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, said the guards are from Bulletproof Securities, an Arizona company that boasts a "no compromises security force."

"I'm appalled. There is no evidence to justify their presence," Jauch said.

Jauch said he was especially concerned that the guards are carrying high-powered rifles more appropriate for fighting wars than for guarding construction equipment in a scenic forest that draws scores of hikers and vacationers in addition to mine protesters.

"Do they have the authority to use those weapons? If so, on who?" Jauch said. "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?"

Company spokesman Bob Seitz didn't return phone calls.


Wisconsin State Journal
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Re: Penokee Hills

Postby gargantua » Mon Jul 08, 2013 9:10 pm

It certainly makes it pretty clear that someone fears and loathes, I don't know, us I guess. They certainly don't know us very well if they think that show of force will intimidate mine opponents into backing down. I suspect it may have the opposite effect.
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Re: Penokee Hills

Postby snoqueen » Mon Jul 08, 2013 9:37 pm

The comments to the WSJ article are surprising. Where usually you get a predictable mix of stupidity and meanness, the majority here are thoughtful and express concern for the environment and for the citizens wishing to use the area (which is their legal right -- there is public access).

The tide of opinion has turned, even among the WSJ commenters.

I also found it amusing the jobs created by the mining company went to an out-of-state security firm. This is from the firm's web page, as quoted in the article:
“Our operators participate in rigorous tactical firearms training on a weekly basis. We train with pistols, carbines, submachine guns, belt-fed machine guns, and edged weapons.”


Just what you want on public-access lands in a recreational area.
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Re: Penokee Hills

Postby Henry Vilas » Tue Jul 09, 2013 8:37 am

Gogebic Taconite does like the bad publicity over the paramilitary guards at the proposed mining site, so instead of removing the guards they want to remove the public.

Mining company might restrict public access

Bob Seitz, director of external relations for Gogebic Taconite, the Florida-based mining company that is seeking approval for an iron mine near Hurley, says the company is considering removing the land it plans to develop from the Wisconsin Managed Forest program, which offers tax incentives to property owners who open their land to public access.

To withdrawal from the program, says Seitz, the company would have to apply at the end of this year and would be able to begin restricting public access in January of next year.
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Re: Penokee Hills

Postby The One » Tue Jul 09, 2013 5:11 pm

Why is the company placing armed guards there? Haven't all of the protest in the area been peaceful and non-threatening?
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Re: Penokee Hills

Postby snoqueen » Tue Jul 09, 2013 5:31 pm

Some idiot stole a company cell phone. That's the excuse.

I mean, that shows they totally need those guards trained "with pistols, carbines, submachine guns, belt-fed machine guns, and edged weapons...."
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Re: Penokee Hills

Postby The One » Tue Jul 09, 2013 5:55 pm

snoqueen wrote:Some idiot stole a company cell phone. That's the excuse.

I mean, that shows they totally need those guards trained "with pistols, carbines, submachine guns, belt-fed machine guns, and edged weapons...."

OK. This Right Wisconsin story says something different. http://www.rightwisconsin.com/perspecti ... 31461.html

Consider the source, but if what is stated in there is true, and they are damaging equipment, wrestling cellphones out of people's hands, and blocking roads to prevent police response, I think security would be justified.
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Re: Penokee Hills

Postby Donald » Tue Jul 09, 2013 8:59 pm

I have a different take on this issue. I think opponents should want security on site.

My group was once accused of sabotaging monitoring wells to make it appear that a gold mine's heap leach pad was leaking cyanide solution into groundwater. It was a bogus charge, and it turned out that the company's "state-of-the-art" leaching technology was not as "state-of-the art" as the company had boasted. To the point of sabotage, the company ran a slip shod operation all the way around, and one of the the things environmentalists worried about was that the company would piss off its workers enough that a disgruntled employee would sabotage the operation, thus endangering our groundwater and surface water resources. It turned out a couple disgruntled employees were more than willing to tell us all the problems that were happening at the mine. That, and surreptitious flights over the mine, allowed us to shut it down. It is now a Superfund site, due to acid rock drainage from their waste rock dumps.

I look at security at the mine as a double-edged sword for the company. It drives up costs for the owners. It causes disaffection from the local population. It is just one more set of eyes that is, inevitably, being directed not just at protestors, but at the mine operators. They will notice stuff that may be illegal or questionable, and they may leak it. Treat the security and the workers as potential allies, not enemies, and you may end up doing more damage to the company than petty vandalism could ever accomplish.
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Re: Penokee Hills

Postby Francis Di Domizio » Tue Jul 09, 2013 9:22 pm

In Earth First's own words:
"...folks took the space over for about an hour. They jumped on trucks and the collection tank and threw pieces of equipment like pickaxes,

fire extinguishers, and shovels down the hillside into the thick of the woods. Fences were knocked over and broken...
"We disappeared into the woods and were able to outwit and outrun sheriff deputies on ATVs because we know the terrain better than they do. We were able to inflict damages upon the company in the form of an entire day of labor costs through the disturbance and subsequent police reports that their workers had to spend their shift doing, as well as shatter their sense of security."


http://www.twincities.com/politics/ci_23465260/northern-wisconsin-protests-over-proposed-iron-mine-raises

I don't know about submachine guns or belt fed machine guns, but based on this behavior I'd say armed guards are definitely warranted. The vandalism I'm fairly meh on, but they didn't just steal a cell phone, they forcibly took it from the woman's pocket, as well as breaking her camera. That's assault and based on they EF statement, those responsible are handling this much like a guerrilla battle. Peaceful protest is one thing, but there is a reason Earth First is considered a terrorist organization. Does "shatter their sense of security" sound non-threatening?
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Re: Penokee Hills

Postby snoqueen » Tue Jul 09, 2013 9:29 pm

I agree the individual security officers are just employees and should not be treated like the enemy. But the idea they could be useful sources of information hadn't occurred to me and it's interesting in other similar situations they turned out to be allies of the opposition. When the hired guys get bored and come in town for a beer, the townspeople would do well to chat them up and be friendly.

And thanks for posting a more detailed (and more credible) account of what the Earth First people were doing. I've got no patience with small-time ecovandalism, which is what this looks like. Who was the anti-logging group out west that caused so much damage a decade or two ago, damage that warranted the term ecoterrorism? They ended up with long prison terms. No reasonable person wants to see things go that direction.

But the company's exaggerated reaction is winning them no public support (quite the contrary) and is putting the innocent public very much at risk. There are more conservative ways to secure a worksite. Vandalism is an ongoing risk at urban job sites and rural ones too, and you don't see over-the-top responses like this very often.

To the general observer, it looks like the company has something to hide and the vandalism provided a great excuse to bring on heavy security. A smart company would invite local observers to the site, conduct occasional tours, explain what was going on, and work with the community, at least for show. And when they hired security, they might consider going with a state or local firm for public relations reasons, if nothing else.

The war-of-the-websites (the security company's boasting versus Earth First's boasting) is an entertaining distraction.

What we've got now is two parties -- the company (not the mercenary guys) and the eco group -- being intransigent and belligerent. First, this does not bode well for public safety. Second, the general public -- those against the mine and even those for mining -- are not well represented by either of these parties. The people I know from that part of the state who have loved the Penokee Hills all their lives are regular folks not crazies and know they're being harmed by the distinctly unhelpful behavior of a few.

I sure hope the Gogebic project doesn't turn into another Superfund site. That would be tragic.
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