Ronald Melius arrested after comparing Fergus Falls city officials to Moammar Gadhafi
Ronald Melius has some peculiar ideas of what a dictatorship looks like.
Moammar Qaddafi is the recently deposed Libyan autocrat accused of causing the deaths of thousands of his own citizens during the civil uprising against him. Hal Leland is the mayor of Fergus Falls and the manager of the West Otter Tail County Fair. These men seemingly have nothing in common.
But all is not what it appears to be, according to Ronald Melius. And his remarks about Qaddafi at a city council meeting last night earned him a stay in Otter Tail County Jail.
Melius is a familiar face around city hall in Fergus Falls. His wife owns Dahlstrom's Carpet Outlet in town, which has been passed over for city flooring contracts on more than one occasion. Melius has raised the objection that Dahlstrom's is being treated unfairly several times during city meetings. In one of his more fiery appearances, he accused the city council of treating him like he's "some kind of idiot."
Eventually, Mayor Leland had enough of him and filed a restraining order. Although Melius is allowed in public meetings, he's not to "harass" any city official, according to Fergus Falls Police Chief Kile Bergen.
It's an order Melius apparently doesn't take too seriously. Bergen says a week ago Melius earned a violation at another city meeting.
Last night, Melius appeared before city council yet again, pamphlets in hand, prepared to make a some kind of presentation. After a brief exchange with some other people in attendance, Melius suddenly turned and began to walk out. That's when he dropped some heavy truth on Fergus Falls.
"Qaddafi needs to go," he shouted. "And there's two of them!"
Despite the fact that Qaddafi essentially already went, there's a whole host of other problems with this statement. Not least of all -- no one really knows how Qaddafi handled his carpeting contracts.
Chief Bergen, who routinely attends the meetings, dutifully got up, followed Melius outside and arrested him.
"He essentially showed up at a public meeting in an attempt to harass the elected officials," says Bergen. "We're just following the court order. It's very clear."
Karen Dahlstrom, Melius's wife, returned a call to her business and declined to comment other than to say her husband is now home.
It remains to be seen whether the International Criminal Court will weigh in on the matter.
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