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Gogebic Taconite temporarily withdraws armed security from mine site

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Gogebic Taconite has temporarily pulled its military-style security guards from its mining site in northern Wisconsin.

The firm admitted Wednesday that Bulletproof Securities of Arizona worked for six days without having a state license.

Private security firms are required to be licensed – and if they’re not, the penalties can run up to $500 and six months in jail, plus a one-year operating ban in Wisconsin.

State safety officials did not say if they’ll seek penalties. Iron County District Attorney Marty Lipske said he’d look into it, and would take the firm’s voluntary suspension of the guards into account.

Gogebic Taconite hired Bulletproof Securities after a female protestor was charged in a vandalism incident last month at the company’s exploratory drilling site for a new iron ore mine.

Tom Parrella, who heads the security firm, said it’s in the process of getting a Wisconsin license. He tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel his guards were hired with little notice, and did not expect all the public attention.

Gogebic Taconite spokesman Bob Seitz said the firm was unaware it needed the license and, “This isn’t a normal thing for any of us.”

The state lawmakers who represent the mining site area asked that the guards armed with assault rifles be withdrawn permanently.

Senate Democrat Bob Jauch of Poplar said he’s appalled that the guards were unlicensed. He said it showed that the mining firm has, “no respect for the public, and no regard for the law.”