Two Fresno councilmembers met with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday to cool down any residual angst from a politically volatile video displayed at a Fresno Grizzlies home game.
Councilmembers Miguel Arias and Esmeralda Soria visited with the New York congresswoman at the U.S. Capitol. Images from the meeting show the congresswoman accepting Grizzlies merchandise from the two.
“AOC was gracious,” Arias told GV Wire. “She felt bad that this led to sponsorships being withdrawn.”
On May 24, a video was shown on the Chuckchansi Park scoreboard that was supposed to honor Memorial Day. The video, which the baseball team’s officials later said was lifted from a third-party YouTube account, was based on a Memorial Day speech by former President Ronald Reagan. At a point where Reagan cites “enemies of freedom,” the video showed images of Ocasio-Cortez, North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un, and the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Grizzlies officials apologized, saying the video was not properly vetted. In the days that followed, Sun-Maid Raisins pulled its sponsor support of the Washington Nationals’ minor-league affiliate, followed by Heineken USA, brewers of the Tecate and Dos Equis beer brands.
“She knows the role baseball teams have in creating jobs for a city,” Arias said of Ocasio-Cortez.
Rep. TJ Cox (D-Fresno) said he was happy to help the councilmembers connect with Ocasio-Cortez. “We should all take every opportunity we can to be kind, empathetic and forgiving,” he said.
Discussion About Federal Funding for Fresno
In a joint news release, Soria and Arias said they also went to Washington to discuss improving access to clean water in central San Joaquin Valley communities, and to support passage of DACA legislation. The House on Tuesday passed the latest version of the so-called Dream Act; the legislation faces a much tougher battle in the Senate.
The councilmembers met with members of the Fresno-area congressional delegation, and with members of the House Appropriations Committee, focusing on funding priorities for Fresno.
“The state and federal lobbyists haven’t been all that successful,” Arias said. “We want to make sure Fresno doesn’t get left behind for appropriations.”
The councilmembers’ trip to D.C. was paid for by the city. The total cost of the trip was about $2,000, Soria said.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story attributed comments by a Fresno councilmember to Esmeralda Soria. The correct source was Miguel Arias.