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California council member cited after scuffle with coronavirus protesters at his home

Fresno City Council President Miguel Arias said he felt threatened that protesters showed up outside his home while his kids were home.

A California city councilman was cited with misdemeanor battery after a physical altercation with protesters who confronted him at his home Tuesday over coronavirus restrictions.

Fresno City Council President Miguel Arias told NBC affiliate KSEE that he felt threatened that the activists had shown up while his kids were home. He said that after asking them to leave, he swiped at their equipment and shoved one man during the confrontation on a stairway.

Image: Council member Miguel Arias
Fresno City Councilmember Miguel Arias has been cited pursuant to a citizens arrest following a confrontation between him and a group of protesters outside his home, according to Fresno Police.KSEE24

In a video obtained by KSEE, Arias can be seen swatting at two men, including a local conservative activist, Ben Bergquam.

“What do you say to the businesses you’re destroying?” an activist can be heard saying at one point.

Bergquam, who runs a Facebook page called Frontline America, organized an event he called a “Freedom Rally” last week, according to the Fresno Bee.

He did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.

Arias told KSEE the incident escalated after the group knocked on his door and refused to leave. “My kids were inside asleep,” he said. “So I escorted them down the stairs.”

“We can disagree on political views, on the level of intervention the city must take” over the coronavirus, Arias said. But he said that the group “crossed the line.”

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Fresno Police spokesman Sgt. Jeff La Blue said in a statement that protesters told officers dispatched to Arias’ home shortly after 4 p.m. that the councilman assaulted them.

After an investigation, the city attorney accepted a citizens’ arrest and cited Arias with battery, La Blue said.

KSEE reported that the confrontation prompted police to station officers at the homes of other elected officials, including Fresno Mayor Lee Brand. Protesters were cleared from the area after they traveled there later Tuesday, the station reported.