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Tense confrontation at City Council ends in arrests amid new security measures

Posted at 5:06 AM, Apr 03, 2024

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Several city council meetings this year have had to come to a halt due to Pro-Palestinian protesters demonstrating and chanting within the chamber, interrupting the meeting. The latest meeting on March 27, however, not only ended with chamber being clear but in five arrests.

  • Video shows the moments protesters outside of Bakersfield City Council chambers are arrested by police after being ejected from the meeting.
  • The tense confrontation came the same day BPD and City Council implemented new security measures, including metal detectors and bag checks.
  • While the new measures came after weeks of protests during City Council, BPD said this was not the reason and that they have been pushing for greater security for years now.

A tense confrontation in front of Bakersfield City Council Chambers — just moments after dozens were ejected from the meeting on March 27.

This isn’t the first time the group of Pro-Palestinian demonstrators began chanting, calling on city council members to pass a ceasefire resolution for the Isreal-Hamas war.

The difference this time: new security measures implemented by City Council and Bakersfield Police.

“The implementation of the new security measures had nothing to do with the recent protests at the city council meetings," said BPD Sgt. Eric Celedon.

Celedon said BPD has been urging for updated security checks City Council Chambers for years now. The new regulations include metal detectors and bag checks, similar to what is seen in other government building like the county courthouse and administrative building.

“The ability to identify these potential threats before they’re able to present themselves is really the main intention behind these new security meetings," Celedon said. "We got no push back from the new security measures and everyone was understanding.”

Celedon said the new security measures were not a problem before the meeting, however, conflict arose after chambers were cleared when police attempted to clear the lobby.

While BPD is not attributing the news measure as a result of the recent protests, the United Liberation Front — the group organizing these demonstrations — claim otherwise, stating in part:

“We vehemently condemn the tactics used by the City Council and the BPD for employing TSA-style checkpoints, using batons and brute force to eject us, and causing a wholly unsafe environment resulting in the unjust arrest of five attendees."

Of the five individuals arrested, one is facing 14 counts associated with misdemeanor vandalism and possessions of a defacement device. The others are facing charges including trespassing, battery on a peace officer, and resisting arrest.

“That is the right to demonstrate and to come out and speak their minds on things that effect them personally," Celedon said. "However, we have to do it legally and we have to do it safely, and we can’t do it in ways that violate certain rules like we did last week.”

The measures implemented so far are just the start, on April 10, city council will decide whether or not to adopt a physical security resolution.

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