Mining Protesters Vandalize DNR Building

MacIver News Service | June 6, 2013

[Wausau, Wisc…] Mining protesters stormed and vandalized a DNR facility in Wausau just hours after the conclusion of a “nonviolent” weekend training camp, according to documents obtained by the MacIver News Service through an open records request.

The Central Wisconsin Action Camp, which was held somewhere in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, concluded Monday morning, May 21st. About 70 people attended that training camp to learn aggressive, yet supposedly nonviolent, protest tactics to utilize against iron mining efforts in northern Wisconsin. Thistle Peterson, a known protester in Madison, was identified in newspaper reports as one of the organizers.

Early that afternoon, a DNR staff member in Wausau, emailed out a distress call.

“Just to let everyone know, there are a group of people protesting in the Wausau office yelling profanities as we speak, etc. I’ve contacted the warden supervisor to get a warden over here asp,” he wrote.

There were 7 to 12 protesters who attempted to force their way into non-public areas of the office, while yelling profanities about mining.

Although described as non-violent, the group climbed onto the roof and nailed a banner to the shingles reading: “Do Not Resuscitate Iron Mining.” The Marathon County Sheriff’s Department asked the protesters to leave and did not arrest anyone.

One DNR official identified one of the leaders during the event as Thistle Peterson, who helped organize the Central Wisconsin Action Camp, according to multiple newspaper reports.

Matt Moroney, DNR Deputy Secretary, sent an email to DNR employees warning them of possible future actions by protest groups.

“There are no indications that violent or aggressive behavior is to be expected, but we want you to be aware of this incident in the event similar incidents take place at other DNR Offices,” he wrote.

Moroney stated that law enforcement agencies around the state are working on a plan for “managing future protest incidents.”

However, any such plan would depend on the professionalism of law enforcement officers involved, and in Marathon County, officers apparently did not arrest or even issue any citations for vandalizing state property when the perpetrators were right in front of them. Also, even though the action camp advertised that it would be training participants how to commit criminal acts, the Taylor County Sheriff laughed it off, according to a report by KUWS-FM.

It got the attention of the U.S. Forest Service and the Taylor County Sheriff’s Department. But Sheriff Bruce Daniels says everything was fine. He saw a group of dedicated people training in a torrential downpour.

“They were peaceful and a group of people out enjoying the northern Wisconsin weather and they did have a specific objective but…”

But they did everything within the law.

Now the Wisconsin DNR is bracing for more incidents in the near future.