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Farmers market feud over drone leads to arrest
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A drone flying over vendors at the Turlock Certified Farmers’ Market Saturday sparked an altercation that led to the market manager being placed under citizen’s arrest by the owner of Turlock City News.

Market Manager Derek Griffin was placed under citizen’s arrest by David “D.J.” Fransen and the Turlock Police Department was called to the scene of the fairgrounds for a report of an assault and battery, said Turlock Police spokesperson Officer Steve Rodrigues.

Fransen stated on his Facebook page: “Today I went to get drone aerial video of the TCFM market when market manager Derek Griffin punched me in the chest twice and pushed me twice as he tried to take away (steal) my drone controller and break my phone.”

The controversy over the two farmers’ markets operating in Turlock was ostensibly resolved in March, but some feelings of ill-will have remained simmering. In December 2015, Peter Cipponeri filed a street closure permit to operate a for-profit farmers’ market for the same time, date, and location as the Turlock Certified Farmers’ Market. The Turlock City Council opted to instate a request for proposal to determine the matter, but after several marathon meetings the Turlock Certified Farmers’ Market opted to pull out of the running. The location was awarded to Cipponeri, who opened the Turlock Downtown Farmers’ Market in May on E. Main Street. The Turlock Certified Farmers’ Market also opened in May at a new home at the Stanislaus County Fair.

Just recently the Turlock Downtown Farmers’ Market moved to Central Park. It was a move that was prompted by complaints from downtown businesses about the loss in traffic caused by the weekly street closure.

Both the Turlock Journal and the Modesto Bee wrote articles about the two markets at the start of the season and the community’s response to the two options. Recently, the Modesto Bee wrote a similar article, which Fransen claims he was out to “debunk.”

“I was there as a citizen and media working to debunk several lies by The Modesto Bee, one including that an average of 3,000 to 5,000 people attend TCFM at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds,” Fransen wrote on his Facebook page. “We have two different weeks of a clicker count documenting less than 900.”

As of Tuesday the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office did not have any charges filed against Griffin.