A Fresno man who was publicly critical of the Fulton Street renovation project was arrested in connection to recent vandalism there, Fresno police confirmed Thursday.
Dallas Blanchard, 53, was arrested on a warrant Wednesday night at his home on F Street, police said in a news release. He was booked into the Fresno County Jail on one misdemeanor account of vandalism and remained in jail Thursday in lieu of posting $2,000 bail.
Police said the vandalism on signs and other Fulton Street property first was reported on the FresGo mobile app. Fresno’s Graffiti Abatement Team removed the paint within 48 hours, police said.
The vandalism happened last week, and it took “several man-hours” to clean and repair the signage and art features in preparation for Fulton Street’s grand opening Saturday.
Fresno police Detective Jacqueline Moreno found surveillance footage from neighboring business that captured a suspect slinging paint onto one of the damaged sites. The paint was consistent with the damage to the new signs. Blanchard was identified from the surveillance footage.
Blanchard has participated in a number of protests in Fresno and is the director of the Fresno Needle Exchange.
He was cited Sept. 30 outside Fresno City Hall for camping and refusing to leave. That occurred the night the city’s new no-camping law targeting the homeless first took effect.
Blanchard was part of a March protest, telling The Bee he laid down in the road intentionally trying to be arrested.
“I was actually there risking arrest knowingly, deliberately. And I was not arrested,” he said in May.
The city is taking multiple measures to prevent similar incidents. Police presence has been increased on Fulton Street, and the Downtown Fresno Partnership is joining with the city to hire private security for evenings and weekends, city spokesman Mark Standriff said.
“You’ve got to be vigilant, and we’re certainly doing our part to protect this investment,” he said.
The city also has installed surveillance cameras near newly restored fountains and artwork to ensure those are not damaged, Standriff said.
An increase in foot and vehicle traffic will be a natural deterrent of crime, Standriff said. City leaders expect that will happen once motorists can once again drive Fulton Street.
The Fresno Police Department is seeking assistance from the public for information regarding additional vandalism cases along Fulton Street. If you have something to share, call Moreno at 559-621-6144. To remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 559-498-7867.