The dispute over iron ore mining in Wisconsin has taken to Facebook and includes shocking racist statements and photographs as well as threats of violence. It’s difficult to sort out either the players or their motivations in these heated exchanges. A Facebook page entitled Wisconsinites for Safe Mining, has been the home of some of the more egregious racist slurs.
A post that has since been removed includes a historical photograph depicting a black and white portrait in the Edward Curtis style of a stoic-faced Native man dressed in regalia. The author has placed the following caption on the top and bottom of the image, “Tries to Explain How Natives Are a Proud People, Too Drunk to Form Words.”
The administrator took down the racist photographs and posts and has subsequently claimed that the page was hacked by anti-mining interests in order to discredit the pro-mining folks. “We here at Wisconsinites for Safe Mining do not agree with racism or racist posts.”
In looking at the page, however, threats of violence against anti-mine protesters are still on the site. For instance, this phrase is posted under the heading of community, “Armed guards have been contracted. Trespassers will be neutralized.” Presumably this in reference to the guards posted at the Gogebic Taconite drilling sites in the Penokee Mountains.
In a post responding to disagreement with the mine, Wisconsinites responds, “We are still going to mine the hell out of Wisconsin, that is not going to change. If you protesters get too close to the hole, we’ll push you in!”
“Education on the mine is not necessary. The mine will be happening no matter what. We are here to educate about the security measures at the mining site so that protesters who plan to trespass know what they have coming to them.”
“Today’s posts are brought to you by Dirty Harry. Because a .44 Magnum would blow your head clean off. Do you punks feel lucky??”
Barbara With, citizen journalist, of Madelaine Island is taking the threat of being “neutralized” seriously and has reported the incident to the Ashland City police.
Today WKOW-TV in Madison reports that Wisconsinites for Safe Mining has initiated a “shoot on sight” order against several female mining opponents named in an earlier posting by a man named Terry Dipper.
Barbara With is one of the women listed in the shoot on sight order.
Gov. Scott Walker decried the behavior saying he hoped it would stop.
In response to e-mails from WKOW reporters, the person(s) from Wisconsinites for Safe Mining refused to identify themselves and insisted that the threats were meant as satire.
Barbara With, Roberta Retram and Lisa Wells who were also named in the threats are taking the postings seriously and have reported them to their local law enforcement agencies.