Mine security guards tote assault rifles in PenokeesGogebic Taconite has brought in semi-automatic rifle-toting security guards dressed in camouflage fatigues to secure their drilling sites in the Penokee Range.
By: Mike Simonson, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Gogebic Taconite has brought in semi-automatic rifle-toting security guards dressed in camouflage fatigues to secure their drilling sites in the Penokee Range. Their presence is upsetting lots of people up north.
Photos have gone viral of men at an Iron County drill site dressed in fatigues, wearing sunglasses with assault rifles draped over their chests. State Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, says this is escalating fear.
“Citizens really are upset in northern Wisconsin when our forests are being patrolled by these masked soldiers, one has to wonder why they are masked, carry military assault weapons like mercenaries in a time of war,” Jauch said.
Although the security guards are at Iron County drill sites, one drill hole was in Ashland County. Ashland County Sheriff Mick Brennan says he doesn’t see the need for the assault rifles.
“Yeah, it always concerns law enforcement any time we have someone who is carrying a firearm, open carry or not,” Brennan said. “My concern if it was in Ashland County is the need for it and what the circumstances that may be prompted them to change their security forces that they have.”
But G-Tac spokesman Bob Seitz says a June 11 raid at a drill site by 15 masked people, which resulted in $2000 in damage and four criminal charges against one person is reason enough.
“When we didn’t have security our people were attacked and equipment was destroyed and I would suggest that when we’ve had security, our people have not been attacked and our equipment has not been destroyed. And I would appreciate it if Senator Jauch could speak out against the violent criminals who are in the northwoods from other places, we suspect, in his district.”
Jauch did condemn that raid. He and Rep, Janet Bewley, D- Ashland are writing a letter asking G-Tac to remove this security force to a more appropriate level.
“Withdraw those forces,” says Jauch. “Send them down to protect the president of Mexico someplace, or go down to Latin America or some Third World country and protect an iron ore mine down there but get the heck out of northern Wisconsin.”
The guards have “Bullet Proof Securities” labels on their vehicles and arm patches. The firm’s website says it’s based out of Scottsdale, Ariz.