'Lead protester' at mine site bound over to stand trial
HURLEY - A Weston, Wis., woman Tuesday was bound over for trial on robbery and theft charges in connection with a June 11 protest at the Gogebic-Taconite mine site near Upson.
Katie (Krow) Kloth, 26, was ordered to stand trial by Iron County Judge Patrick Madden after one witness testified at the preliminary examination.
About 20 people attended the hearing, including both G-Tac officials and Kloth supporters.
Stacy Saari, a G-Tac employee, described Kloth as the "lead protester" at the site where drilling was to begin that day, but was delayed.
For an hour or more, Kloth yelled the entire time, pausing only to catch her breath, Saari said. She said just about every other word Kloth used was the F-word.
Saari testified Kloth said she hoped the mining or drilling employees would all burn in Hell or go home and commit suicide because they were about to ruin the environment.
From 15 to 20 protesters, some with faces hidden, showed up at the site that day, disrupting G-Tac's initial attempt at exploratory drilling. There were eight employees at the site. Core samples were later drilled, however.
Saari described how she began video-taping the incident after the protesters had first started taping at the scene. She said they took down names that were written on hard hats and read license plate numbers into the video recorder.
Saari said she wrestled with Kloth to try to keep her camera. A strap broke and Kloth gained possession of it, Saari said.
She also said her cell phone was taken from her pocket, but she believed a male protester took it.
She said she received scratches on her wrist from the wrestling match.
Protesters climbed on the $1 million-plus drill rig owned by Ideal Drilling Co. and wielded pick axes and threw pop cans and large jugs of water, Saari testified.
Defense attorney John C. Bachman asked only a few questions of Saari. She said she didn't require medical attention, Kloth didn't take her phone and she got her camera back.
Saari said Kloth didn't climb on the drill rig, but did climb on a water tank and directed other people to do so.
At one point, Saari said Kloth threatened to burn down the f****** houses of the non-protesters at the site.
Saari said she didn't see any weapons on the protesters.
She said her vehicle was damaged as she drove around boulder and tree blockades set up by protesters and it took her a half hour to drive the three miles to the drill site.
Iron County District Attorney Marty Lipske moved for the bind-over immediately after Saari testified and Madden granted the motion, ruling there was probable cause the crimes had been committed.
Bachman made no argument against the bind-over.
Kloth is charged with robbery by the use of force, theft of property under $2,500, and two misdemeanors of criminal damage to property.
Arraignment was set for 3 p.m. on Jan. 6.
Kloth'a $5,000 signature bond was continued under conditions she have no contact with mining company employees.