CA Councilman Cited For Battery After Reopen Protesters Showed Up At His House

Courtesy City of Fresno website
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Fresno police facilitated a citizen’s arrest of City Council President Miguel Arias on three counts of misdemeanor battery Tuesday evening, after reopen protesters went to his home.

After police arrived on the scene, protesters showed the officers footage of an altercation and demanded Arias be arrested for assault, per a statement from the police.

“After a thorough review, the City Attorney instructed the Fresno Police Department to accept the citizens’ arrest,” said the statement. Arias was cited and released at the scene.

Lt. Anthony DeWall did not confirm whether a court date has been set.

In a video posted to Facebook by James Hoak, one of the MAGA gear-clad protesters, several people can be seen approaching Arias’ apartment bearing cameras and microphones.

Arias, barefoot, comes out of his residence and a confrontation ensues.

In a statement obtained by TPM, Arias said that the videos posted online only captured some of the altercation.

“The short video that has been released only depicts a small fraction of a much longer incident,” he said. “Indeed, the entire initial sequence of events, including the group members attempts’ to force their way into my residence, is not depicted at all.”

He added that one of the protesters, right-wing activist Ben Bergquam, is a “self-identified member of the Proud Boys,” a hate group as designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Bergquam has identified and rallied with the group before.

“I asked him to leave my home, emphasizing my kids were home and that I would not allow them to be placed in danger,” Arias said. “I took precautions to ensure the safety of my family and protect them from individuals known to be armed and dangerous.”

Bergquam described the scuffle differently to a local ABC News affiliate.

“There are business owners who are losing everything and we just wanted to ask him a couple of questions,” Bergquam told ABC News 30. “As I was saying that, he comes out of the apartment, grabs me by the arms, and tried to throw me down the stairs.”

The enraged protesters yelled up to Arias from the bottom of the steps.

After accusing him of “assault” and “attempted murder,” some get back on the topic of the shutdown.

“He’s asking for people to be arrested for their constitutional rights,” one can be heard saying on the video Hoak posted. Another shouted “you’re so pathetic, how do you sleep at night?”

“Do you want to say anything about the businesses you’re destroying?” asked another.

Arias can be seen making a phone call, standing silently at the balcony above the stairs. Eventually, he goes back inside, calling “see you in a bit” to the protesters.

The protestors then can be heard discussing plans to next stake out the home of Fresno Mayor Lee Brand.

Per a statement from Brand’s office, the protesters did in fact go to his house, but the confrontation was less fiery.

“A group of 20-25 people protesting the City’s shelter in place orders came to my house last night. When they arrived, I went out to answer their questions and we had a peaceful discussion on my sidewalk,” Brand said in a statement obtained by TPM.

“After 10 minutes, they left and I went back inside,” he continued. “I’m willing to talk with anybody who wants to have a civil conversation about the best way to keep our city safe and healthy.”

Brand has extended his stay-at-home order for Fresno until May 31, and plans to reopen the city in waves.

The extension has angered some Fresno residents, with one councilman even calling the plan “authoritarian.”

Protests have broken out across the country spearheaded by those frustrated by the shutdown orders, though public opinion shows the majority of Americans on board with the COVID mitigation efforts.

As of Wednesday afternoon, California had 71,141 cases and 2,934 deaths per the state health department.

This post has been updated with a statement from Arias.

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