Tensions hit home: Councilmember clashes with protesters who show up at his door

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FRESNO, California (KGPE) – Fresno City Council President Miguel Arias was cited for battery after a confrontation with protesters outside his home.

Waving American flags and referring to themselves as independent reporters, the group showed up at Arias’s Fresno apartment Tuesday afternoon to question the city councilmember about reopening Fresno.

The confrontation in the stairwell of Arias’s apartment was caught on camera and shows tensions escalating. At one point, the video shows Arias smacking a phone out of a protester’s hand, and shoves exchanged in the stairwell.

“Originally we came here and we didn’t think he was going to be home,” said one protester.

Arias said his kids were napping at the time they arrived and he feared for his safety.

​”These are people who are known to be second amendment advocates and have made threats to my personal safety in the past and I wasn’t going to take any chances and let them come within ten feet of my kids,” said Arias.

After Fresno Poice arrived, protesters gathered outside the apartment complex calling for Arias to resign and two began arguing with neighbors who told them to leave their apartment complex.

“Fresno has so much racial tension and it’s finally bubbling over the top,” said a resident, Natasha.

Jason Phillips is one of those pressing charges against Arias for the confrontation. He said their intention was to advocate for the struggling business owners and the elected official questions.

“In an attempt to ask a  few questions, that’s all we wanted to do today if he didn’t want to answer he should have just shut the door,” said Phillips.

After reviewing the cellphone video, Fresno Police facilitated a citizens arrest of Miguel Arias for three counts of misdemeanor battery. He was cited and released. Police said everyone cooperated.

“Those charges have been filed and we plan to be there to uphold those charges and make sure Arias is held responsible,” said Phillips.

The group then went to Mayor Lee Brand’s home where police were standing by. Brand said they had a productive and peaceful conversation and went on their way. As a precaution, officers stationed themselves outside city council members and the city managers home for the evening.

“Let’s be safe, think of one another, and think of other ways of having a good robust debate without threatening somebody’s personal property or space,” said Councilmember Luis Chavez.

Many who showed up to Arias’s apartment also attended the Freedom Rally outside Fresno City Hall last week. Councilmember Garry Bredefeld was there too, supporting the reopening of Fresno. He said Tuesday’s events crossed a line.

“This should have never happened. I completely condemn this thing where you go to people’s houses and confront people, that should never happen again,” said Bredefeld.

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