Crime

2 protesters outside Trump’s Fresno rally face felony charges

A California Highway Patrol officer, center, talks to a Fresno Police officer as law enforcement were deployed for protesters during the rally for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump on May 27, 2016 in downtown Fresno.
A California Highway Patrol officer, center, talks to a Fresno Police officer as law enforcement were deployed for protesters during the rally for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump on May 27, 2016 in downtown Fresno. ezamora@fresnobee.com

Two protesters at the downtown Fresno rally for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump face charges of resisting arrest and assault on a police officer.

Rigoberto Vera, 24, and Aaminah Norman-Taquee, 18, each plead not guilty Thursday in Fresno County Superior Court to the same charges: three felony counts of assault on a police officer, resisting a police officer and battery upon a peace officer.

Vera was taken into custody Monday near East Liberty and South Orange avenues after officers reviewed hours of video and audio footage of protests that took place during Trump’s Fresno visit on May 27. He remained Thursday evening in the Fresno County Jail in lieu of $65,000 bail.

A police spokesman said Vera, who stands 5-foot-9 and weighs 160 pounds, apologized for the assault after he was taken into custody without incident.

Police said Vera is a documented East Side Bulldog gang member. Court records say he pleaded no contest in March 2012 to a felony charge of carrying a loaded firearm in public and was sentenced to 270 days in jail and three years of probation.

Videos of the protests outside of Selland Arena in downtown Fresno were posted on social media and taken by news outlets and police body cameras.

The police spokesman said Vera taunted officers, shouted obscenities and challenged them to a confrontation. Vera also attempted twice to take an officer’s baton while officers were ordering protesters to leave the arena area, the spokesman said.

Vera reportedly fled into the crowd but was not pursued because officers were protecting the Trump motorcade.

Police have not given an account of what Norman-Taquee did to get arrested, although media reports said two women who refused to disperse were arrested.

Jail logs say the 5-foot, 95-pound suspect was arrested May 27. Fresno police said another woman was cited at the Trump rally May 27 and released.

Pablo Lopez: 559-441-6434, @beecourts

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