Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer, new Police Chief Paco Balderrama, several City Council members and a handful of clergy gathered Tuesday afternoon outside City Hall to urge residents to remain peaceful Wednesday when Joe Biden takes the oath of office and becomes the nation’s 46th president.
But in the event that disturbances do occur, Fresno police will be prepared to react quickly to them, officials said.
Never before, Dyer said, has there been a need for city officials to present messages of peace and unity prior to Inauguration Day.
“But … we’re not living in normal times. In fact, these are unprecedented times in our nation and as evidenced by what occurred on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol, something that I never thought I would see in my lifetime, individuals who stormed the Capitol, five people killed, including a U.S. Capitol police officer,” he said. “Again, something that I think shocked America and rightfully so, because that was absolutely uncalled for and should not have occurred in our nation.”
No Credible Threats of Violence
Balderrama said that although there had been no credible threats of violence in the Fresno area as of Tuesday afternoon, the police department will be prepared for whatever may arise and already has a plan in place to ensure security.
Some streets will be closed, including P Street in front of City Hall, and larger numbers of officers will be out in force to maintain safety and security, he said.
Fresno police are in close contact with federal officials and will remain so through tomorrow to share any information about potential threats to safety and security, Balderrama said.
Police recognize that citizens should be able to exercise their Constitutional rights to assemble and to have freedom of speech, he said.
However, Balderrama said, “They do not have a right to assault, and vandalize or to engage in civil disorder.”
And Dyer suggested that everyone take a holiday from social media on Wednesday and avoid the rhetoric that undoubtedly will surface concerning the legitimacy of Biden’s election.
Remember How 9/11 United America
Instead, Dyer said, he hopes everyone will hark back to 2001 when the nation was under attack by terrorists who flew jetliners into the World Trade Center Twin Towers and the Pentagon, and would have flown a fourth plane into the U.S. Capitol except for a brave band of passengers on United Flight 93.
“Regardless of who the president of the United States is, we’re still one nation, one nation under God, just as we were on Sept. 11, 2001, when the United States of America was attacked by a foreign enemy,” he said. “We held hands together regardless of our race, regardless of our religion, regardless of our political affiliation. We held hands as one.”
Pastor Bob Willis of Northpark Community Church noted that some of the rioters who overtook the Capitol on Jan. 6 were holding the Christian flag and banners that said, “Jesus Saves.”
Willis said their actions and beliefs are the opposite of what Christ teaches his followers in the Scriptures.
When he saw Christian symbols being displayed in the chaos of the attempted takeover of the Capitol, “all I could think of is that we have turned from God’s ways in our lives and our nation … And I just want to say to those of you out there who are conservative, white Christians, you may feel that you’ve had an election stolen from you. You may feel that things aren’t working out the way that they ought to. But violence is never the answer.
“Jesus is a God of peace and hope and love and of joy and Scripture tells us of reconciliation. My prayer is that we’ll use this moment in time to be a moment when we begin to allow God to reconcile us to one another, to build the kind of city, the kind of community that he wants us to have. Fresno, we’re better than to be a place of violence, we’re better than to be a place of mob rule.”