Frequent North Dakota candidate charged after disrupting train posts bail after missing court date

A bench warrant was issued for Roland Riemers, a multi-time political candidate, after he missed a dispositional conference scheduled for April 6.

Roland Riemers
Roland Riemers

GRAND FORKS — A Grand Forks man, and frequent political candidate, charged in October with disorderly conduct for disrupting a train that was blocking a railroad crossing posted bail this week to avoid jail time after he missed a pre-trial conference.

A bench warrant was issued for Roland Riemers after he missed a dispositional conference scheduled for April 6. He told the Herald on Thursday, April 13, he turned himself in and posted bail for $1,000 to avoid jail time for missing a conference that he believes was not mandatory.

After his arrest, officers found the bodies of the Patel family, just 30 feet north of the Canadian border in Manitoba.

In October, Riemers was charged with disorderly conduct, a Class B misdemeanor, after he was arrested at a railroad crossing in the 5400 block of DeMers Avenue. The Grand Forks Police Department received reports on Oct. 10 of a man, later identified as Riemers, blocking a train from moving and shooting some type of fireworks off.

Riemers said he was attempting a citizen’s arrest of the train engineer for violating a city ordinance prohibiting trains from blocking railroad crossings for extended amounts of time and lit an emergency flare on the tracks for safety reasons.

Riemers referenced Grand Forks city ordinance 8-1002, which reads as follows: “No railroad company, corporation, engineer, conductor, track master, or other person shall cause or allow any locomotive engine or railroad car of any kind whatsoever, to stop upon or remain in or upon any of the streets, avenues, or alleys of this city for a longer time than ten (10) minutes at any one (1) time, and then only when it is absolutely necessary, to prevent accidents or to avoid injury to persons or property.”


Riemers said he let the district court judge assigned to the case and prosecuting attorney know ahead of the April 6 dispositional conference that he would not be in attendance ahead of time because of a trip out of the country.

“To my surprise, when I got back in town yesterday morning, I found out when I checked the internet that they have apparently canceled the jury trial and put a bench warrant out for my arrest for missing this non-mandatory status meeting,” Riemers told the Herald Thursday.

Originally, Riemers' trial was scheduled for Tuesday, April 18. He did not know when it will be rescheduled for.

Riemers has made a number of runs for political office, including sheriff, U.S. House, secretary of state, state auditor and governor, among others. In 1996, he gained 656 votes as a Democratic candidate for president in the North Dakota primary.

He was a candidate for Grand Forks School Board in 2022.

Ingrid Harbo joined the Grand Forks Herald in September 2021.

Harbo covers Grand Forks region news, and also writes about business in Grand Forks and the surrounding area.

Readers can reach Harbo at 701-780-1124 or Follow her on Twitter @ingridaharbo.
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