MADISON (WKOW) -- A video of the protester raid that prompted Gogebic Taconite to hire armed security guards at its northern Wisconsin iron mine site was posted on Facebook Wednesday afternoon and is prompting a strong reaction across the state.
The six-minute video, taken by one of the protesters participating in the raid, shows a group of several masked individuals confronting a small group of Gogebic Taconite employees at a drill testing site and profanely shouting at them to leave the area.
The video shows one of the protesters attempting to steal the camera of a Gogebic employee, who unsuccessfully struggles with the protester to keep it.
The Iron County District Attorney's office charged that protester, who is identified as 26 year-old Katie Kloth of Stevens Point, with a felony count of robbery with use of force.
Throughout the video, Kloth and the other protesters can also be heard shouting dozens of obscenities at the workers.
"We thought that the video was just shocking," said Scott Manley, Vice-President of Government Relations for Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, which strongly supports the mine.
In response to the incident shown in the video, Gogebic Taconite hired guards armed with assault rifles, some of which came from an Arizona company called Bulletproof Securities.
"The violent nature of the incident and the threatening nature of the incident is why the mining company had to take all of it very seriously," said Manley.
The state senator who represents the district where the mine is located also condemned the protesters.
"It was vile behavior, they used terrible language, they embarrassed their parents if anything and broke the law in a few cases," said Sen. Bob Jauch (D-Poplar), a staunch mine opponent.
But Sen. Jauch says the actions on the video don't justify such an intimidating response from the company.
"There is no justification to bring in this excessive force. And then, it still begets the question, why not hire a Wisconsin firm?," said Sen. Jauch.
On Wednesday, Gogebic asked those guards to stand down after it was revealed Bulletproof Securities did not have a license to practice as a private security firm in Wisconsin.
Gogebic Spokesperson Bob Seitz says the guards will be back on duty once Bulletproof Securities obtains a license from the Department of Safety and Professional Services.
"I don't know if Senator Jauch is an expert in security, but the firm that was hired has a national reputation. They hire very well trained and experienced law enforcement," said Manley.
According to state law, a private security firm convicted of practicing without a license cannot obtain one for a period of one year. But DSPS officials will not comment on any potential disciplinary actions against the company.
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