Stop Using Armed Guards to Scare Environmental Activists

Target: Bill Williams, President of Gogebic Taconite

Goal: Stop mining company from using armed, camouflaged guards in response to protests by environmentalists

The mining company Gogebic Taconite has recently deployed armed security forces around their Wisconsin mine sites. This use of armed guards is in response to a protest in which a camera was taken from an employee. Yet these aren’t just your regular private security guards: they are wearing camouflage and brandishing assault rifles along with other weapons. Their faces are covered with masks. They are “Bulletproof Security,” based in Arizona. After national attention was drawn to the guards, the company pulled them out of the area as they were not licensed in Wisconsin. Yet the company stated that it has every intention of returning its security once they are properly licensed.

The presence of armed, masked security only serves to heighten tensions in what has been an otherwise peaceful protest. Environmental activists are now finding groups of armed guards when they go for hikes, and tribes fear for their safety. Pete Russo, the Ashland County Board Chairman, stated that his “main concern is you’ve got people in camouflage and carrying (semi-)automatic weapons. This is a cocktail for disaster,” and he couldn’t be more correct.

The use of aggressive scare tactics against peaceful protestors is a step towards thuggery, and the use of excessive armed personnel only worsens an already tense situation. Sign this petition to let the President of Gogebic Taconite know that the public detests his use of armed security forces in Wisconsin.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Bill Williams,

Since Gogebic Taconite started mining in Wisconsin, tensions have continued to rise between your company, activists, and local tribes. As the environmental activists have been peaceful, and tribes simply fear for their safety, the public is incredibly concerned about your decision to hire Bulletproof Security. The introduction of armed, masked personnel carrying automatic weapons only serves to increase the tension between your company and those who have every right to peacefully protest what you are doing.

Your use of this security company amounts to thuggery. Using intimidation of this sort is unacceptable, and only serves to show the public that you fear the peaceful words of these protestors. Displaying firepower is a weak way to engage these activists, and labeling them as ‘Eco-terrorists’ only strengthens the notion that you fear them. I demand that you remove these security forces from your mining site, and allow protestors to exercise their rights to peacefully assemble and protest your company’s work. Intimidation is not the proper response.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Orianomada via Flickr

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Signatures

  • Yvonne Fast
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  • Nancy Orons
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