City Council Member's Chief Of Staff Accused of Assault

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District 4 Councilmember Jesse Arreguin's chief of staff, Anthony Sanchez, has been accused of assaulting former District 4 candidate Eric Panzer, who sustained a minor injury when Sanchez allegedly tore a campaign sign from his hand at Sunday's Spice of Life Festival in the Gourmet Ghetto.

All three were at the festival Oct. 17 when Sanchez approached Panzer - where he was "picketing" Arreguin's booth, according to Arreguin - at about 2:50 p.m. The two briefly exchanged words, multiple sources reported, before Sanchez allegedly forcibly took a sign supporting Measure R from Panzer, causing him to bleed from his hand.

"I had a wound on my hand that was healing," Panzer said. "Wrenching the sign from my hand caused that to open."

Sanchez and Arreguin left the scene before security officers were summoned by those at the nearby booth in support of Measure R. Four officers from the Berkeley Police Department who responded to the scene searched the area but could not find Sanchez, according to Sgt. Mary Kusmiss.

Panzer and Michael Rhoades, who was also working at the festival's pro-Measure R booth, said Sanchez fled the scene running, while Arreguin and Anna DeLeon, Sanchez's attorney, said he walked away to attend another event.

Panzer's injury was sterilized and bandaged by emergency medical technicians at the scene.

According to DeLeon, Sanchez felt it was necessary to remove the sign - on a wooden stake, she added - from Panzer's grasp after he allegedly made a "threatening and offensive" statement to Sanchez with an alleged "threatening physical demeanor."

Arreguin also said it seemed as though Panzer was "aggressive toward Anthony," adding that he believed Panzer was "moving his sign in a direction so that Anthony was concerned for his safety."

But Panzer said he had been approached by Sanchez and called DeLeon's allegations of any threatening "completely and utterly untrue" and "a fabrication."

"He quite simply asked me if I was acting unprofessionally, and in the process of him asking that question, took the sign," Panzer said. "His actions were unprovoked."

Arreguin said he approached Panzer after the incident and that Panzer "made if seem as if it was no big deal." He added that his political opponents - including those in support of Measure R - may be "provoking and manufacturing the situation to make me look bad."

Panzer was a candidate for incumbent Arreguin's District 4 Berkeley City Council seat before dropping out of the race Sept. 27 and throwing his support behind candidate Jim Novosel. Both Novosel and Panzer support city ballot Measure R, which would govern development in the Downtown area, while Arreguin does not.

Tomer Ovadia of The Daily

Californian contributed to this report.


Sarah Springfield is the city news editor. Contact her at [email protected]

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