Ashland Police Investigate Courthouse Confrontation Involving GTAC President


Ashland Police are investigating allegations of a confrontation between the president of Gogebic Taconite (GTAC) and a citizen in the Ashland County Courthouse yesterday.

Shortly after an 18-1 vote by the Ashland County Board to pass an ordinance regulating mining, Board Chairman Pete Russo says GTAC President Bill Williams got in a heated discussion with his county administrator outside the boardroom.

Spectator David Joe Bates, who opposes the proposed open-pit iron ore mine in the Penokees took out his cell phone to record the exchange. Bates posted on Facebook that Williams then “ripped the cell phone right out of my hand.”

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Bates filed a complaint with the Ashland Police Department. A spokesman says they are taking this very seriously because injuries may be involved. They are reviewing medical records, courthouse video and taking statements.

It isn’t clear who was injured, although police say Williams was not hurt. Bates got his cell phone back.

A decision on charges is not expected today.