President of the Fresno City Council, Miguel Arias, was cited on three counts of misdemeanor battery on Tuesday after assaulting three members of Frontline America on the stairs just outside his apartment.
Conservative group Frontline America, who have been covering the state mandated shelter-in-place orders and concerned about Fresno’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, were met with extreme agitation from Arias, which resulted in three of the members of the group being assaulted.
Ben Bergquam, Conservative activist, and founder of Frontline America is seen on video knocking on Arias’s apartment door. When the door opens, Bergquam immediately introduces himself and his purpose. The first thing Arias’s says in response is, “Get out of my house. Get out of my house.”
It’s important to note that Frontline America never entered Arias’s home and remained on the landing in between apartments.
Arias steps out of the apartment and immediately starts trying to grab Bergquam, and successfully swats Bergquam’s camera to the ground. Arias then grabs Bergquam by the arm and shirt and pushes him down the stairs. Arias can be heard repeatedly saying, “Do not come to my house.”
Jason Phillips, a second member of Frontline America, can be seen walking up the stairs towards Bergquam and Arias knocks his phone from his hands without delay. Arias then gets in Phillip’s face and shoves him as well.
Arias goes inside the apartment to grab his phone and call police. When he returns Bergquam asks Arias, “What do you say to the businesses that you’re destroying?”
“He’s upset he can’t control you Ben,” another member of Frontline America can be heard saying. Arias again slaps the microphone Bergquam is holding, trying to knock it from his hands.
The video was captured by two members of Frontline America and sent to local Fox affiliate KMPH. The video has been shared thousands of times on social media as well.
The original full video was posted on Frontline America’s Facebook page along with the caption:
“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, and so we are going to show you what really happened. footage shot by Ben, Josh, Aurelia Moore and James Hoak! Edited by Eddie Block”.
In the edited clip, it shows Arias speaking with a reporter and telling her the group was “banging on his door”. The video proves that not to be true.
Arias tells the reporter that “Ben is a 2nd Amendment whacko in my view,” and that after asking the group to leave he “escorted” them down the stairs.
“One of them put their hands on me so I pushed them back,” Arias tells the reporter. Video evidence of the incident proves that to not be true either.
The video cuts to another angle where it shows Arias coming down the stairs trying to push Bergquam down and then reaching over and shoving a third member of the group, Josh Fulfer down the stairs.
The interview with the ABC 30 reporter closes with Arias saying, “The alt-right media don’t have the right to come inside someone’s home, and threaten them, and put their kid’s safety at risk.”
No one ever entered into Mr. Arias’s home, no threats were made, and the only ones who appeared to be at risk were members of Frontline America who were being assaulted.
A Fresno officer told The Fresno Bee that there was evidence that an assault had occurred and that Arias was shown to be the aggressor. The Fresno Bee also reported that “Arias said in his statement Wednesday that the video on social media only depicted a small part of a longer incident. He alleged the group tried to force their way into his home.”
Yet even more lies.
The entire incident from before the group ever crossed the street to the apartment complex was filmed from more than one angle, and on more than one recording device. Sorry Arias, facts don’t care about your feelings.
Josh Phillips, who described the altercation in detail to local Fox 26 News reporter Marie Edinger said he, along with the other two victims Arias assaulted on Tuesday would be pressing charges.
After the assault, Frontline America posted footage on their YouTube channel of Fresno’s CSI Unit and Fresno PD outside the apartment complex. In the video below, assault victims Josh Fulfer, Jason Phillips, and Ben Bergquam described the incident with Bergquam pointing out that the group had heard that the apartment where the incident occurred is not Arias’s full-time home, but rather the councilman’s “front residence” that he uses to run for City Council. “He lives actually in Fig Garden Village, so we didn’t expect to find him out here,” Bergquam said.
As Bergquam is describing the incident, an ABC 30 reporter yells something about the group entering Arias’s residence, which Bergquam quickly corrects. “This is why the people call the news ‘fake news,’” Bergquam says.
Frontline America posted a separate video Tuesday of Ben Bergquam and a small group of citizens and small business owners questioning Fresno Mayor Lee Brand outside of his residence about the city’s lockdown order. The group expressed their eagerness to get back to work and inquired on what it would take to begin lifting some of the shelter-in-place orders. Mayor Brand was thanked for his willingness to speak to the citizens of Fresno, a stark contrast to what the group experienced from Arias earlier that day.