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Ramsey County Sheriff Admits Local Police Used Paid Infiltrators and Spied on Activists
by Democracy Now
Saturday Sep 13th, 2008 12:47 AM
SHERIFF BOB FLETCHER: Well, when I say we know them, we did. We followed our Welcoming Committee members to many cities around the country. We consulted with the terrorism task force in those cities. We received information, etc. But as they started arriving, we were able to identify those that were here.

Ramsey County Sheriff Admits Local Police Used Paid Infiltrators and Spied on Activists Including RNC Welcoming Committee

In an interview on Democracy Now!, Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher blamed a group of 400 to 500 alleged anarchists for creating unrest in St. Paul over the past week. Fletcher also admitted local police authorities had infiltrated and spied on local activists, including members of the RNC Welcoming Committee, for over a year. We play his remarks and an excerpt of a press conference, where members of the RNC Welcoming Committee spoke to the media for the first time.


AMY GOODMAN: As I interviewed Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher, he blamed a group of 400 to 500 alleged anarchists for creating unrest in St. Paul over the past week. Fletcher also admitted local police authorities have infiltrated and spied on local activists, including members of the RNC Welcoming Committee for over a year.

SHERIFF BOB FLETCHER: Let’s be—let’s cut to the quick in this whole discussion. You know, our organization has been tracking the activities of anarchist organizations throughout the United States now for the past year. We have dozens of anarchist groups that are here, and I would estimate probably about somewhere between 400 and 500 individuals from those affiliate—those affinity groups. And those are the 400 that are really causing problems for everyone.

The first day, that first Monday, you know, we knew what their tactics were going to be. They were brazen about it. They made no bones about their attempt to blockade streets. And if you were downtown, and you saw the—imagine you’re a delegate on a bus, and they mob the bus and break the windows. If you’re walking through downtown, and you see Macy’s get their windows broken, or the First Bank. There were a lot of brazen criminal acts. And it’s a very small faction. I will tell you that, you know, of the 10,000 protesters there on Monday, we were talking about 400 that were really troublesome. But those same 400 are still in town. And when they get cranked up and decide to do some damage, they can.

And so, the city police department decided, after several observations of people with weapons, people with feces and urine in the crowd, that this was the type of—there were enough individuals in the crowd that could cause problems, that some action had to be taken. And so, I think—I don’t think you can police always for the best in the crowd. You have to police for the worst in the crowd.

AMY GOODMAN: You mentioned you knew these 400, roughly, who came in from around the country. How did you know them? How did you track them?

SHERIFF BOB FLETCHER: Well, when I say we know them, we did. We followed our Welcoming Committee members to many cities around the country. We consulted with the terrorism task force in those cities. We received information, etc. But as they started arriving, we were able to identify those that were here.

AMY GOODMAN: In what ways?

SHERIFF BOB FLETCHER: Well, a variety of investigative ways that we did that.

AMY GOODMAN: Did you have infiltrators?

SHERIFF BOB FLETCHER: Yes, we did.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Ramsey County Sheriff. We also asked him if those infiltrators were paid, and he said yes. That was Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher.


Well, on Wednesday, prosecutors formally charged eight members of the RNC Welcoming Committee with conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism. The eight activists are believed to be the first people ever charged under the 2002 Minnesota version of the federal PATRIOT Act. The activists face up to seven-and-a-half years in prison.

On Thursday, other members of the RNC Welcoming Committee spoke to the media for the first time. The group, along with the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, held a news conference at their convergence space to discuss their group and the charges against the so-called RNC Eight.