The Lake County MN DA's office finally charged the group of five rednecks from Ely with a total of 79 felony and misdemeanor counts for verbally and physically harassing and making terroristic threats to several campers in the BWCAW back in August. In a former life I was a member of a DA's office in Wisconsin and was a bit worried about all the time it took to file charges on this case. Sweep it under the rug, bad for tourism, local councilman's son type of deal. Apparently in this case it was due to diligent and thorough work by the Lake Co sherriff's and DA's offices to charge the crimes properly and make sure all elements are proveable in court. We can only hope that is indeed the case and that these morons will be hearing, "You shore got a purty mouth" for many years to come at the Oak Park Heights Correctional Facility. This may help drive home the meaning of just exactly what a terroristic threat is with these jerks. It will be a bit different than telling a family camping in a wilderness area, "Maybe if you make us smores for an hour we won't f**king kill you". And these are just the state charges; the Feds and the Canadians have not weighed in yet. Here is the link to the Duluth News Tribune article but I had to reprint some of the most egregious stuff here on the blog:
According to the complaint, at one site where seven children were present, the suspects came to shore to swim, refusing to leave when asked numerous times, swearing at the campers and stating that they owned the land.
“No, we came to skinny dip and plan to, you can watch if you want to,” the complaint quoted the suspects as saying.
“Then screaming drunken, broken phrases, two of them took their clothes off and ran around in the water,” the complaint said.
On two occasions, the complaint said, the suspects poured gas on the lake water and set it aflame. They also caused nearly $1,400 in damage to a water gauging station by wrecking its antenna. One boat went into Canada and fired multiple shots. Twenty-one shell casings were recovered in Canada.
I guess I don't know what I would do in this type of situation. How do you know if they are 'for real' or bluffing? Minnesota is a Right to Carry state, what if one of the campers had been armed? Other than having to politely ask folks to leave designated camping areas that we had reserved, I guess my park camping experience has been pretty tame, positive, and non confrontational. A few of we usual suspects are off to Voyageurs National Park next weekend for a kind of farewell to the 2007 island camping season. This is a multiple use park (which I support) and, like the Apostle Islands, there will be motor boaters, sailors, and fisherman in the park. While the likelihood of an incident such as this happening is slim, I must admit somewhere in the back of my mind I will be a bit apprehensive if I hear an outboard after sunset. I guess in that way these ignorant slugs have impacted us all a little bit.