Fresno

Arias, protesters get physical in confrontation at Councilman’s apartment

Confronted with protesters on the doorstep of his downtown apartment, Fresno City Council President Miguel Arias found himself in the middle of a scuffle on Tuesday afternoon.

A group of protesters, joined by conservative activist and media figure Ben Bergquam, visited Arias’ downtown Fresno apartment to confront the Fresno City Council President over the city’s continued shelter-in-place order and push for businesses to fully reopen.

Video shows Arias and protesters engaged in a minor shoving match on the stairwell of Arias’ second floor apartment.

Following the incident, Fresno Police issued a citizen’s arrest citation to Miguel Arias on three counts of misdemeanor battery.

The protest comes two days after another physical confrontation occurred with a Fresno Police officer and the father-in-law of Asm. Joaquin Arambula (D–Fresno) outside of the Waffle Shop in northwest Fresno.

Following the fracas, the Fresno Police Department deployed officers to the homes of all seven City Councilmembers and Fresno Mayor Lee Brand.

Brand is no stranger to threats of similar doorstep confrontations. Following his announcement of an extension of shelter-in-place to May 31, he too faced threats of protests at his home in northeast Fresno.

After the incident at Arias’ home, the protesters made their way to Brand’s home – police detail present – where they talked to him for about 10 minutes before dispersing.

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

“After 10 minutes, they left and I went back inside. 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.”

Two of Arias’ fellow council members condemned the move by protesters and potential threats against city officials.

“You can differ with people politically. You never attempt to intimidate them or go to their home,” Councilman Garry Bredefeld said. “I hope there are laws against this kind of outrageous behavior and if there are people are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. This should never ever happen.”

“As a Council member that has been publicly threatened before, I take these threats very seriously and that’s why I have a concealed carry weapons permit,” said Councilman Luis Chavez. “I will not tolerate anyone threatening me or my family.”

This story will be updated.

Alex Tavlian
Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at alex.tavlian@sjvsun.com.