Fresno Official Cited for Battery After Attacking Conservative Journalist

A local official in Fresno, California, was given three citations for battery after he attacked a group of people outside his home.

Democratic City Council President Miguel Arias attacked conservative journalist Ben Bergquam and two others on March 12. In a public statement, Arias stood by his actions, claiming that the men tried to force their way into his home.

But his accusations don’t line up with video captured by the group. Bergquam, who hosts Frontline America, was there as a journalist for America’s Voice. He said he was initially looking to confirm that Arias lived in the district, and that the address wasn’t a front for election purposes.

Bergquam can be seen knocking on Arias’s door, and after Arias answers, the journalist introduces himself. Arias cuts him off, tells him to “get out,” and lunges at Bergquam as he’s speaking. From there, the situation escalates quickly and eventually the councilman is seen shoving the men down a flight of stairs.

Miguel Arias Assaults Ben, Josh and Jason!

Ben Bergquam was attacked by Fresno City Council President Miguel Arias, who then went on to attack Jason Phillips and Josh Fulfer.The fake news and Arias lied about the situation, ansd so we are going to show you what really happened.footage shot by Ben, Josh, Aurelia Moore and James Hoak!Ediited by Eddie Block

تم النشر بواسطة ‏‎Frontline America with Ben Bergquam‎‏ في الأربعاء، ١٣ مايو ٢٠٢٠

“There’s no justification for it,” said Bergquam. “No matter how many lies he spins about this, how he felt threatened—which was just a total lie. The only person that was threatening that day was him, and the only person that got cited was him.”

The councilman also told ABC 30 Action News that the group tried to break into his home and banged on his door. The Fresno Police Department and Arias did not immediately reply for comment.

Questioning the Shelter-in-Place Order

After Arias opened the door and lunged at Bergquam, the journalist accused the lawmaker of destroying businesses in the Central Valley by pushing to extend the shelter-in-place order.

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand extended the order through May 31 last week. Arias said the mayor’s decision and the plan to open additional “authorized” and low-risk businesses was “in the best interest of our city,” reported GV Wire.

Under the order, restaurants can only provide take-out service.

In response, the owner of The Waffle Shop, a restaurant in northwest Fresno, defied the order for a few days saying he was “just trying to survive.” The business was slapped with a total of $6,000 in fines, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Bergquam, alongside business owners and protestors, visited Brand after his scuffle with Arias and discussed the shelter-in-place order. He said the difference between the two officials was their behavior.

activists and lawmaker
Conservative journalist and host of Frontline America Ben Bergquam and others are confronted by City Council President Miguel Arias in Fresno, California, on May 12, 2020. (Frontline America with Ben Bergquam/Facebook/screenshot)

“There was about a 20-minute dialogue back and forth where he answered their questions, and I asked a few questions on behalf of the media and also as a resident in the valley,” said Bergquam. “And everyone walked away peacefully.”

“When they arrived, I went out to answer their questions and we had a peaceful discussion on my sidewalk … I’m willing to talk to anybody who wants to have a civil conversation about the best way to keep our city safe and healthy,” the mayor told NTD News in an email.

Bergquam said Arias could have simply closed the door if he didn’t want to be interviewed. He added that he didn’t leave the property to make sure Arias was held accountable.

Now, he said he thinks the lawmaker should resign, but at minimum, “acknowledge that his behavior was wrong.”