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 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
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.
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.
Many 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.
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.
 a state of society without government or law.