An opponent of the proposed Gogebic Taconite (GTAC) mine in Ashland and Iron counties has filed a report with City of Ashland Police, alleging he was assaulted by GTAC President Bill Williams on Thursday at the Ashland County Courthouse after the Ashland County Board overwhelmingly approved a pair of mining-related ordinances.
David Joe Bates, a Bad River Tribal member from Odanah, said Williams snatched a cellphone he was using to record a conversation between Williams and Ashland County Administrator Jeff Beirl following the meeting.
“Bill Williams was angry with the passage of the zoning ordinance and he took his rage out on me,” Bates said in an email to The Daily Press. “By the way, I have been diagnosed with a hyperextended shoulder as a direct result of this assault. I’ll be lawyering up!”
Bates asserted on a Facebook posting that Williams “ripped the cell phone right out of my hand.”
For his part, Williams denied that any assault took place.
“I made a statement to the police. We are sure that the videos will confirm that statement,” he said.
Williams said far from assaulting Bates, he shook hands with him after a brief conversation, then left the building.
Williams said he could not recall if he had taken the cellphone away from Bates.
“My statement was that basically he was standing next to me and that is what I was discussing,” Williams said. “I made the statement to the police and they have videotapes of the area, and it will be confirmed, and at the end of it I shook hands with Mr. Bates after we introduced ourselves.”
Ashland Police Captain Jim Gregoire said Friday that their report was in the process of being prepared and that an investigation of the incident was proceeding.
“We need to do as thorough a job as possible,” he said.
Gregoire said the department was reviewing security videotapes, working to obtain medical reports and obtaining statements from all concerned.
Once the report is completed, any decision on possible charges would come from the Ashland County District Attorney’s office.