Bad River Chairman Rejects Tactics Used by Protesters in Video and GTAC Security

logoIn a statement to Wisconsin Public Radio,  chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe Mike Wiggins Jr. says he’s against the tactics used by the anti-mine protesters in a June 11 action.

Members of an unidentified group attacked workers at an exploratory drilling site June 11, the day Gogebic Taconite (GTAC) began drilling the first of eight bore holes. One person from the raid has been charged with four criminal counts of theft and damage to property.

Bad River Tribal Chairman Mike Wiggins says the video is not what they’re about. Their strategy is non-violent opposition. For example, the tribe is participating in the GLIFWC 2013 Healing Circle Run/Walk, from July 13-19, 2013. The run/walk will connect eight Ojibwe reservations in northern Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota. He explains Bad River’s approach:

For a nation to heal, it must begin with the individual. As a person heals, then that person can help heal his/her family. As a family begins to heal, they can help heal their community. As communities heal, they can help the nation heal. As nations heal, they can help Akii (the earth), our plant and animal relatives to heal. The 2013 Healing Circle Run/Walk is an opportunity for people to come together to pray for healing for themselves, their families, their communities, their nation, Akii, and our relatives.

Wiggins thinks this entire week has traumatized the region, climaxing with GTAC bringing in an unlicensed security force illegally carrying assault rifles in the hills outside of LCO Harvest Camp.

“The semi-automatic assault weapons … was a public relations ploy to try and label the good people of Wisconsin and the others who are peacefully resisting as violent people,” says Wiggins. “It’s a shame, it’s really a shame and no one’s buying it.”

United in Defense of the Water stands with the Bad River Band in denouncing the tactics of the protesters in the video and GTAC, and once against makes a strong commitment to working cooperatively to empower our neighbors in peace and non-violence, and affect change through education that will unite and inspire all people to take action to protect the water.

Press Conference and Walk, Mellen, July 10 4:30 PM Gilman Park

Armed Security Forces in Northern Wisconsin. Photo: Rob Ganson

Armed Security Forces in Northern Wisconsin. Photo: Rob Ganson

Mellen Press Conference and Walk
Gilman Park, downtown Mellen
Wednesday, July 10, 4:30 PM
Contact: Frank Koehn, Penokee Hills Education Project, 218-341-8822

Community leaders and citizens speaking at the Mellen Press Conference will be addressing concerns about the presence of a paramilitary force in the Penokees hired by Gogebic Taconite GTac) to patrol the drill site. These paramilitary operatives work for Bulletproof Securities, a private mercenary firm out of Arizona.

After the press conference, those in attendance will walk to the Morse Town Hall at 402 2nd Ave, Mellen, where a 6:00 Ashland County, Iron County,  Anderson and Morse Mining Impact Committee is scheduled.

The walk is a peaceful event and is not intended to interrupt or delay the meeting in any way.

See a news report about Bulletproof Security here.
http://youtu.be/IfJlgIswetc

Press Conference sponsor: PHEP. The Penokee Hills Education Project was formed to educate the public about risks to the Bad River watershed and the Penokee Hills posed by GTAC’s mountaintop removal mine; to share relevant information about the impact of mining on our economy, health, and environment; and to connect with citizen-led groups locally, statewide, and nationally.

EDITORIAL: This is a peaceful action

photo: Ros Nelson

photo: Ros Nelson

Last week, charges were filed against a woman for allegedly assaulting a GTac employee near LCO Harvest Camp and the site of the core drilling taking place in the Penokee Hills. According to the report, about $2500 worth of damage was done to vehicles and personal property and she was charged with three misdemeanors and a felony.

The group that allegedly perpetrated the act was welcomed at Harvest Camp, as all visitors are. According to sources involved, however, the group did not inform the creators of camp of their intention to cause damages, as alleged.

As can be expected, media propaganda immediately began associating the group’s action with Harvest Camp. After the incident was resolved, the Penokee Hills Education Project and LCO Harvest Camp reiterated their policies of education and non-violence. In an interview with Rob Thomas, entertainment reporter for the Cap Times, I was asked if the people who took part in the direct action were associated with the Harvest Camp. My response was that the anarchists[1] who took the action were not acting on behalf of the camp, and that the camp did the right thing to assist law enforcement with finding the perpetrators.

Peaceful hikers going to visit the drill site. Photo: Ros Nelson

Peaceful hikers going to visit the drill site. Photo: Ros Nelson

Much like the Madison police who refused to become the palace guard for Walker during the 2011 uprising, we have allies in our local law enforcement. One of my neighbors said it best: After a long walk to the drill site she reported, “Their bodies are on one side of the yellow tape, but their hearts are on the other.” They are working together with us to protect the community they serve, not the corporation.

These are stressful circumstances for everyone. We are all suffering from shock and awe. The elected officials who support corrupt legislation are traitors to the Wisconsin Constitution. They sold out our resources to their corporate sponsors, passed unjust and dangerous laws and continue to lie about it.

We know the mining company wrote the law. We know it is an unjust law. It leaves the door open for not only the Bad River Watershed but all of Wisconsin waters to become a “sacrifice zone.” The pollution a 22-mile open pit mountaintop removal iron ore mine would rain upon our area would turn us into another West Virginia. Our economy, our agriculture, our children, our environment, our health, our infrastructure—everything would suffer.

Ashland County Zoning Committee holding a public hearing for the new Metallic Mining Zoning Ordinance, which passed 18 to 1.

Ashland County Zoning Committee holding a public hearing for the new Metallic Mining Zoning Ordinance, which passed 18 to 1.

Because this is a just cause, and because those who live here have a rich history of standing together in nonviolent-direct action, we are making important headway. This coalition of community leaders, local and state activists, law enforcement and ordinary concerned citizens have produced what I personally consider a miracle. Ashland County, which rushed through a “Responsible Mining Resolution” two years ago, just passed their new metallic mining zoning ordinance last week. Iron County is about to do the same. It is no guarantee of safety by any means and we fully anticipate Gtac will continue their assault. These steps do, however, herald the turning of the tides of our deepening relationship to our neighbors in Hurley and Iron County, and our faith that we can change the hearts of our neighbors and elected officials with education, nonviolence and a commitment to doing what is best for the whole.

vistaMany people have never been to Lake Superior. They have no idea what it’s like to live near such clean, clear water, with friends and neighbors who support you and what’s best for the entire community. I have always believed the good people of Iron County have been misled, and that if they knew the truth, they would join us. This is proving to be true. You simply cannot fit a theoretical idea of aggressive direct action such as damaging property over our area and think it will work.

With the new budget in place, more and more people will be waking up. We must be prepared to welcome them, not damage their property.

For those who are inclined to break the law, please remember, there are laws that ensure the people’s right to the protections of their person and property. These laws are not unjust. If you choose to break them, be prepared to serve the time.

Better yet, if you want to help preserve the Penkoee Hills and the Bad River Watershed, join us in our peaceful commitment to doing what is best for the good of the whole. Work with us, not against us.

Standing up to the corporate takeover of our government will take everyone acting for the good of the whole. Many paths, one goal.

Choose wisely.

The Penokee Hills Education Project is a non-profit educational organization whose mission is public education, networking, and grassroots organizing on the environmental, health, social, and economic issues of mining in northern Wisconsin.


[1] a state of society without government or law.

Super Moonlight Hike To Drill Site Saturday June 22 9 PM

Photo: Keri Graczyk

Photo: Keri Graczyk

Come up to LCO Harvest Camp this weekend and join in another walk through the Penokee Hills to see what GTAC is up to. Weather permitting, enjoy the beautiful Super Moon while strolling through the hills.

Directions from Mellen: East on Highway 77 for 3.5 miles. Right on Lake Road for one mile until you see the gate. This is NOT the same departure point that was used for the last walk. The walk to the site is approximately two  miles, but do you do not have to go all the way. Walk part of the way and enjoy the night sounds of the forest, or just come for the romantic stroll in the moonlight while standing up to protect the Penokees!

From what we understand, there could be lots of private security and local law enforcement around, so no one has to worry about being attacked by Bill Williams or his crew!

80 Hikers Visit Mine Drill Site Guarded by Local Police

Yesterday, approximately 80 hikers made the trek from LCO Harvest Camp up to the site of exploratory drilling taking place in the Penokee Hills. It was a peaceful event and hikers got to meet about 14 police officers from five different jurisdictions who were guarding GTAC, the mining corporation’s interests. There were no incidents, and hikers returned to Harvest Camp for some food and conversation. Photos: Ros Nelson