In an supplemental budget request, Ramsey County Sheriff Bill Fletcher is expected to ask for considerable funding to pay for security during the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul.
Fletcher, who narrowly won re-election in 2006, expects to arrest between three and five thousand protesters during the GOP's presidential nominating convention in September 2008. According to a source close to the policy-making process in St. Paul, the unconfirmed amount of $4,432,804 includes more than $80,000 for chain link fence to build outdoor holding areas for protesters. According Dave Verhasselt, spokesman for Ramsey County Manager David Twa, the Saint Paul Police generally have jurisdiction over arrests, and the Sheriff over jailing once arrests are made.
Verhasselt (who could not cite specific numbers but indicated a request "between three and four million" dollars) also said that discussion of arrest numbers at this point is purely speculative.
Protesters are a part of every large political convention, and the scope of Fletcher's projection seems to split the difference between recent examples. In 2004, six protesters were arrested at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, while approximately 10,000 were arrested during the RNC in New York City. According to sources close to the budget process, however, the St. Paul Police Department has already begun working with groups interested in expressing peaceful opposition to the RNC, and Fletcher's request appears, on its surface, to conflict with that process.
By Nicole Belle — April 17, 2007