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Fresno Police Presence To Increase At Tower Theater Protests In Response To Proud Boys

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In a news conference Wednesday, Fresno city leaders denounced the violence that erupted last Sunday at a Tower Theater protest. The protests organized by the Save the Tower Theater Demonstration Committee have largely been peaceful, but this past Sunday, Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer said as many as 60 Proud Boys attended. He said they wore ballistic vests, carried hunting knives, tear gas and mace.

“The proud boys were very, very vocal, threatening and intimidating towards the Save the Tower protesters who were also there,” he said.

 

Police said an officer stepped in when a pregnant woman said she was pushed by one of the Proud Boys. The woman was not seriously injured, but had to be checked at the hospital.

 

A total of two people were arrested at the protest. Police Chief Paco Balderrama said the department is working on staffing more officers on bike patrols this Sunday. He also said officers will separate the opposing groups. 

 

Earlier this week, more than 100 people attended a District 1 virtual meeting, many voicing their concerns and anger over the presence of the Proud Boys. When asked at the news conference whether the city would formally denounce the group, Mayor Dyer spoke.

 

“If denouncing that behavior, if denouncing that organization, if that is what is called for, then I believe each and everyone of us as city leaders have done that and will do that,” he said.

 

Councilmember Esmeralda Soria echoed the same sentiment, saying there’s no room for hate in Fresno.

 

“In particular, there’s no room for hate in the Tower District that is known to be one of the most diverse and inclusive and safe places for families, regardless of who you are,” she said.

 

The Save the Tower Theater demonstration committee has been organizing weekly protests in front of the theater, voicing opposition to a zoning change, pending the sale of the theater to an evangelical church, Adventure Church.

 

A lawsuit to stop the sale is pending a review of the appeals court with a decision that could come next week. 

 

This Sunday, councilmembers Soria and Miguel Arias, Police Chief Balderrama and Mayor Dyer plan to attend the protests to show solidarity for peaceful actions.

 

Soreath Hok is a multimedia journalist with over 16 years of experience in radio, television and digital production. She is a 2022 National Edward R. Murrow Award winner. At KVPR she covers local government, politics and other local news.