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Mining Company Hires Gun-Toting, Masked Paramilitary Security Guards as Protests Flare Up

The presence of guards who work for Bulletproof Securities is raising eyebrows among Wisconsin lawmakers.
 
 
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A private security firm has been hired by a mining company in Wisconsin, and now a paramilitary-like force has begun to protect the mining site. The presence of guards who work for Bulletproof Securities is raising eyebrows among Wisconsin lawmakers.

The mining company, Gogebic Taconite, is set to launch a large iron ore mining operation in Wisconsin over the objections of environmentalists. And they’ve hired Bulletproof Securities to guard the site. The people protecting the mining site near Lake Superior are masked and are toting semi-automatic rifles while wearing camouflage uniforms.

The mining site has been met by protests recently.

The company told the Duluth News Tribune that the security company was hired because opponents of the mine “dressed in black and wearing masks violently attacked our drill site” in June. But lawmakers are now speaking up against the security firm.

“I'm appalled. There is no evidence to justify their presence,” Democratic State Senator Bob Jauch told the Wisconsin State Journal, as Talking Points Memo points out. “What would you use those weapons for except to hurt somebody?”

One Wisconsin resident who visited the mining site, Amy Noble, said that the pictures she was shown of armed guards “doesn’t seem like Wisconsin.”

Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall dug up some more details about Bulletproof Securities. The company’s website boasts of having a “border security force.” The company also owns “heavily armored Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV’s), Tactical All Terrain Vehicles (T-ATV’s), FLIR (mobile thermal systems), mast equipment (eye in the sky), and many other state-of-the-art assets.”

Marshall points out that the owner of Bulletproof Securities, Tom Parrella, owns a major real estate agency in Arizona. He has told the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce that his company is “trying to bridge the gaps between private security contractors and local government and law enforcement.”

 

Alex Kane is AlterNet's New York-based World editor, and an assistant editor for Mondoweiss. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

 
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