« WSAU Opinion Blog

OPINION - Armed security is needed

by Chris Conley

NEWS BLOG (WSAU)   Compare the official news accounts of an incident between protesters and G-TAC mining workers in Iron County and actual video footage of what happened.


State Rep. Janet Bewley has rocks in her head. Contrast the letter she wrote to G-TAC mining officials with the video footage of the actual event that prompted private armed-security guards to be hired.

“The company that claims they want to do good for northern Wisconsin is arming itself against northern Wisconsin.” Bewley says company officials are completely out of touch with how things work up north, or they simply don’t care.

Bewley says G-TAC “overreacted” in an area that has been “very peaceful.” She says, “They changed from a very appropriate and low-key security company to this very dramatic, frightening, assault rifle-bearing, camo-wearing group from Arizona.”

In a letter to Bill Williams, president of Gogebic Taconite, the two lawmakers wrote: “While no one can argue that your company does not have the right to protect your private property, these armed guards serve no purpose other than to intimidate local citizens and increase local tensions. No one in their right mind can justify this excessive use of force. These individuals are not deputized and they can’t arrest anyone.”

Bewley continued, “We hope you will recognize this serious error in judgment and replace these new security forces with something far less offensive and more along the lines of the local security staff that have been safely protecting the property for the last month.”

From this footage Katie Kloth of Stevens Point (the woman with the foul mouth who physically takes the G-TAC employee’s [in the white and pink striped shirt] camera) was arrested and charged with theft.

But that’s not what should have happened at all. All of the protesters are using foul language, and, at a minimum should be charged with disorderly conduct. And those who climbed upon private property (the two men whose faces are covered in black bandanas and the third in the white bandana) should be charged with criminal trespassing. Kloth, who wrestles with and arm-braces her victim, should not only be charged with theft, but with assault as well.

In short, the video shows G-TAC employees acting passively and masked protesters acting in an intimidating and unlawful manner. If law enforcement was there all of the demonstrators should have been arrested and removed. Since this happened in the deep woods, private security is indeed appropriate. Anyone who watches the video would conclude that armed security is the right choice, not mall-cops. The Iron County DA says protesters also strategized about ways to slow down sheriffs deputies response times to test-drilling sites, and discussed bringing larger numbers of protesters to preoccupy law enforcement.

A picture is indeed worth a-thousand words. Pictures of the actual incident-in-the-woods show G-TAC workers acting properly and protesters acting illegally. That’s why armed security is necessary, and will certainly be back on the scene soon.

Chris Conley