Community leaders react to scuffle between Fresno councilmember and protesters

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FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) — In a time of high tensions, local leaders are banding together after a physical altercation involving a Fresno councilmember on Tuesday.

Council President Miguel Arias faces three misdemeanor charges of battery after a group of people protesting the city’s shelter in place emergency order showed up at his apartment complex Tuesday night. They later went to the home of Fresno Mayor Lee Brand.

“Disappointed,” said Fresno Mayor-Elect Jerry Dyer. “Unfortunately Fresno made national news again. That was my first thought. We are going to make national news on something we don’t want to make national news on.”

Fresno has been featured in national headlines twice this week regarding the city’s shelter in place emergency order.

First for body cam video that showed a man being detained outside of the Waffle Shop for blocking the entrance so code enforcement could not enter.

Then again a couple of days later, when cellphone video captured Arias physically confronting a group of protesters who showed up at his front door.

“It is important that we take a breath and start working together,” said Dyer. “It is uncalled for and we need to get back together to solve some of the problems that we have locally.”

Councilmember Garry Bredefeld plans to bring forward new legislation that would get rid of the city’s shelter in place order. In the past, none of the councilmembers have supported that proposal.

Despite the council’s difference in political views, Bredefeld said he does not condone the protesters’ actions from Tuesday.

“It completely crosses the line of safety,” said Bredefeld. “Decency and boundaries when someone shows up at the door of an elected official.”

Police cars were dispatched to all of the councilmembers’ and Mayor’s homes. The officers stayed there throughout the night and into Wednesday morning.

“Part of the problem those protesters made is now we have to have protection for the councilmembers overnight,” said Councilmember Mike Karbassi. “That is fewer officers out there protecting other people too.”

Councilmember Nelson Esparza wants to assure residents the council will continue to move forward to get the city back on its feet.

“We are continuing to do the work,” said Esparza. “We continue to represent our constituents. This hasn’t impacted us serving the city at all.”

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