Guards at mining site ready for the worst

Guards at the Gogebic Taconite mine site in Iron County, WI, need assault rifles and military garb because they must be ready for the worst, says the Arizona-based owner of the security company that has drawn heavy criticism for its presence.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, Bulletproof Securities president Tom Parrella said in an interview the high-powered rifles are justified because of online postings by mine opponents that appear to be death threats and by “strange and threatening behavior” by a few others.

“We don’t put our people out in harm’s way without giving them the best of the best in terms the tools they need,” Parrella said. “There is absolutely no apology on the part of our company for sending our professionals out there with the tools they need.”

His comments came as a video surfaced of masked protesters’ profanity-laden verbal attacks on mine workers. The video also shows protesters walking around a drill site and confronting a worker with a camera and taking it from her after a struggle.

A Stevens Point  woman faces a charge of robbery by force and three misdemeanors for allegedly wrestling a camera from a mine worker on June 11.

The state’s business lobby, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, pointed to the video in a statement calling for closing public access to the site. The land owner currently receives tax breaks in exchange for leaving the land open for recreation.

Parella said “radical” protesters have posted death threats on a Facebook page and guards have seen people “sneaking” through the woods several times a day.