Libertarian candidate claims house fire was political backlash
Roland Riemers said he believes he is the victim of political backlash. The Grand Forks police and fire departments aren't so certain, but they are investigating incidents of vandalism and fire to family property of Riemers, a candidate for Grand...
Roland Riemers said he believes he is the victim of political backlash.
The Grand Forks police and fire departments aren't so certain, but they are investigating incidents of vandalism and fire to family property of Riemers, a candidate for Grand Forks School Board and Libertarian candidate for governor.
Riemers said those incidents were politically motivated, as his campaign signs were clearly visible in both instances.
He said his sometimes unpopular opinions, such as supporting women's right to abortion and Measure 2, which would ban property taxes statewide, have made him a target.
"I take a lot of positions on controversial issues," Riemers said. "I tend to be on the fringe level of what's considered socially acceptable on issues. Somebody's got some political motives behind it."
"I don't think (Gov. Jack) Dalrymple was down here," he joked.
A pair of incidents
On May 22, a shed, deck and attached garage on a rental property owned by Riemers' wife were badly burned by fire. There was a "Riemers for Governor" sign in front of the residence, located at 1002 University Ave.
The fire department is still investigating the blaze, but Fire Marshal Brandon Boespflug said he has ruled out all accidental causes.
Riemers said two gas cans not owned by him or tenants were found burned on the scene. "It does look like an accelerant was used," he said. "It looked awful suspicious. For an average garage fire, they've put a lot of work into it."
Boespflug said the investigation is still open and headed by the fire department, but police are involved.
Between 10 p.m. Tuesday and 9 a.m. Wednesday, someone threw a rock through the rear window of Riemers' campaign car, parked in the back driveway of his house on University Avenue, just a half block from his wife's rental house.
The investigation into that incident is just under way, and Grand Forks police Lt. Jim Remer said there's been an increase in similar vandalism in the past two to three weeks.
"There's nothing to indicate at this time that he's being targeted for his political beliefs," Remer said.
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