California City Council President Cited for Assault After Shoving Conservatives Protesting Coronavirus Restrictions

Fresno, California's city council president was issued with citations for assault after he allegedly shoved conservative protestors outside his home while they demanded that businesses be allowed to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Police were called to the home of Fresno City Council President Miguel Arias after the incident on Tuesday. A video shared to Twitter by Fox affiliate KMPH shows conservative activist Ben Bergquan confronting Arias on a staircase near the home's entryway while holding a microphone and telling him he is "destroying businesses and people's lives."

"This is my home. My kids are here," Arias says in the video, before shoving Bergquan. Another unidentified man then pointed his cell phone at Arias, who knocks it out of the man's hand.

"My dad is a lawyer, you just made a big mistake" the unidentified man says while approaching Arias with a pointed finger. The council president responds by shoving him as well.

The video clip ends with Arias calling police as the group threatens to take legal action against him. Police responded to the scene, as well as the homes of every other Fresno city council member, according to local news outlet GV Wire.

A scuffle between Fresno City Council President Miguel Arias and conservative activist Ben Bergquam was caught on camera earlier today.
Police officers are now being placed outside the homes of other councilmembers as a precaution.

(Video: James H.)

— FOX26 News (@KMPHFOX26) May 13, 2020

"They came to my home, where my kids were taking a nap on the couch," Arias told the outlet. "It was clear to me a mob mentality was taking place, and I am not going to allow it."

Arias also said that the video was not an accurate representation of the situation, insisting that the group of 10 to 15 were refusing to leave his home and "shouting demands" after he refused to take part in an interview.

Police "facilitated citizen's arrest citations" for three counts of assault against Arias after reviewing the video with the Fresno city attorney's office, according to KFSN.

Another video clip posted to social media shows a larger group of protestors gathered outside the home near what appears to be a gated area. Arias said that the group involved in the confrontation bypassed security.

#BREAKING: a group of protestors have gatherered outside the home of #Fresno city council member @MiguelArias_D3. @CBS47 @KSEE24

— Kirsten Mitchell (@Kirsten_TV) May 13, 2020

Fresno council member Garry Bredefeld, who disagrees with Arias politically and opposes the lockdown restrictions, expressed support for the council president in the wake of what he called a "disturbing and outrageous incident."

"I've just been informed that protesters went to Council President Miguel Arias's house--I can't even begin to express the outrage I feel regarding this incident," said Bredefeld in a statement. "This is completely unacceptable and should never happen."

"While we can have disagreements politically and express different points of view, it completely crosses the line of safety, decency, and respect of personal and family boundaries," Bredefeld added.

In a statement obtained by Newsweek on Wednesday, Arias said that he received multiple threats against his family from people outside of Fresno after the incident, along with messages of support from locals. He also said that the full details of the incident had been edited out of the video.

"Yesterday afternoon, as my two kids slept, the safety of our home was violated by a dozen out-of-town individuals led by Sanger resident Ben Bergquam, a self-identified member of the Proud Boys, which the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as a racist hate group," said Arias.

"Bergquam and his companions bypassed security to reach my private condominium residence unannounced," Arias continued. "The short video that has been released only depicts a small fraction of a much longer incident. Indeed, the entire initial sequence of events, including the group members' attempt to force their way into my residence, is not depicted at all."

"In the coming days, I will explore all options to ensure that this does not occur again to my family nor anyone else's family," he added.

Update 5/13, 9:15 p.m.: This article has been updated to include a statement from Fresno City Council President Miguel Arias.

protestor with bullhorn
A large number of conservative protestors throughout the country have demanded that restrictions intended to contain the spread of COVID-19 be lifted. killis/Getty