The Ramsey County Sheriff is suddenly in the spotlight for orchestrating raids, days before the Republican National Convention was to begin. This is after one Twin Cities mayor, visiting Denver, which had a very heavy police presence, promised a more "low key approach."
In a news release today, Fletcher defended the raids on the RNC Welcoming Committee:
The "Welcoming Committee" is a criminal enterprise made up of 35 self- described anarchists who are intent on committing criminal acts before and during the Republican National Convention. These acts include tactics to blockade and disable delegate buses, breaching venue security and injuring police officers. They have recruited assistance in their criminal conspiracy from other anarchists groups throughout the country. Through their plans and actions they have exhibited a blatant disregard for the law and the safety of others
The raids have launched Fletcher into the spotlight, but the raids are not his first encounter with controversy.
This week, two of his "close friends" were convicted of stealing money during an FBI sting operation. (Background here)
He has "reinvented" the sheriff's office, "expanding its reach, doubling its budget and polarizing its ranks. His high-profile approach has strayed into empire-building, some believe, and he now faces a rare threat that could make this term his last," according to a profile in the Star Tribune last week.
In 2003, he confiscated questions on cards submitted to a League of Women Voters Ward 5 council debate, after one anonymous question alleged a relationship between Fletcher and one of the candidates. That prompted a citizens group to launch a petition drive to oust him. It failed.
He's got his fortification on University Avenue surrounded by concrete barriers now. Classic entitlement mentality meets classic bunker mentality. Then again, he's from lily-white Maplewood, which is all about the bunker mentality.