‘Why am I being handcuffed?’: Civil rights activists arrested at Ron DeSantis press conference in Jacksonville

Jacksonville Protester
"I have no idea what happened," DeSantis said after the incident.

Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Jacksonville Tuesday, amid a serious spike in COVID-19 cases and a shortfall in local testing, to announce his intention to increase monoclonal antibody treatment in Jacksonville. “America’s Governor” didn’t count on being greeted by angry members of the public, however.

Instead, his event was derailed as staffers could not clear members of the public from the space, with an extended delay before the arrest of a local protester who wanted to ask DeSantis questions.

The press conference was delayed by activist Ben Frazier who showed up and said he was not leaving. Others were with him, but Frazier became the center of the controversy.

Police and staffers entered the room, and others, including Wells Todd, said they wanted to ask DeSantis about critical race theory and other topics DeSantis has politicized. Frazier, a former broadcaster, held firm, asking about having a private press conference in a public building.

Frazier was told by a man who described himself as a facilities manager that the conference was only for “credentialed press” and asked everyone to leave “who is not media.” According to the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville’s website, Frazier serves as the president and is a former journalist.

“We’re not moving,” the 72-year-old Frazier said.

“When it comes down to public welfare, this Governor does not care,” went some chants thereafter.

As they handcuffed him, he asked “Why am I being handcuffed? Am I being arrested?”

Frazier was brought to ground level, where two police officers put him in the back of a police car, while supporters of Frazier’s looked on.

“I have no idea what happened,” DeSantis said when asked about the incident after his remarks, shutting down inquiry.

Rep. Angie Nixon, a Jacksonville Democrat, lambasted DeSantis in a statement released after the incident.

“In Florida, the people come last. In Florida, the Governor runs and hides when the people demand to be a priority. In Florida, peacefully questioning authority gets you arrested. Public service is the people’s business and the Governor must answer for his failings. There’s nothing private about America witnessing the suffering that Floridians have endured because of Governor DeSantis’ people-last strategy,” she said.

House Democratic Leader-Designate Ramon Alexander added, “The hypocrisy of Governor DeSantis’ ‘Free State of Florida’ was on full display today in Jacksonville. It’s only free if you agree with him, and you can only attend his events if you are a cheerleader for his political ambitions. You’re free to catch the virus in Florida, but don’t you dare question the Governor’s policies.”

Florida Democratic Party chair Manny Diaz described the arrest as “not only unjust, but un-American. While peacefully exercising his First Amendment rights in a public building, Mr. Frazier was removed in handcuffs and placed in the back of a patrol car. To add insult to injury, Mr. Frazier, who is disabled, was not even permitted to use his electric wheelchair to leave.“

Republicans saw it differently.

“Today, a Democrat activist, Ben Frazier, attempted to disrupt Governor DeSantis’ press conference related to the distribution of life-saving COVID treatments for Duval County.  It is on record that he was politely asked to leave and refused multiple times, upon which he was escorted out by law enforcement.  This is not the first time Mr. Frazier encounters the law. He does not have a history of respecting law and order much less standard protocol for a press conference,” argued the Republican Party of Florida in a statement.

DeSantis spokesperson Christina Pushaw tweeted about the incident, likening it to the Capitol riots that delayed certification of the 2020 Presidential election last year.: “It’s almost the anniversary of J6, and Democrats in my replies are insisting that government buildings should always be open to any member of the public who wants to confront an elected official, and nobody should be arrested for trespassing in a government building! Wow!”

Ahead of the Q&A, DeSantis stepped to the microphone, with son Mason by his side, as he announced the expected fulfillment of a city request to add more monoclonal treatment locally.

“If we get more treatments,” DeSantis pledged the state would open an additional site in Jacksonville later this week.

The Governor lamented getting just 12,000 doses in the recent tranche from the federal government as “totally, totally inadequate,” and a cut of 2,000 doses week over week.

“It’s about half as much as was sent to the state of New York. That is wrong. Bogarting these treatments is wrong,” DeSantis said, invoking counterculture slang from a bygone era to illustrate his point.

The Governor noted the “good news” about omicron, including it being less pathogenic.

“Most patients in Florida are delta patients, not omicron patients,” DeSantis said.

The Governor said vaccinations weren’t stopping the “very contagious” omicron, and in that context “providing the ability to get the treatments is important.”

DeSantis also promised that tests would go to nursing homes and to other high-risk populations, lamenting the lack of at-home tests sent from the federal government.

Duval County has yet to see the worst from this wave.

Cases are up more than 200% over the last seven days, while hospitalizations are up 242%. The 12% positive testing rate, the early closures and supply issues at testing sites, and other such issues are leading Jacksonville to look at expanding testing capacity.

Against that backdrop, DeSantis came back to the city he had so often held up as a model of rationality earlier in the pandemic. Jacksonville was where the Governor rolled out the first state monoclonal antibody clinic at the downtown library, and months after that move during the delta surge, he returned again.

But unlike those previous visits, serious complications ensued, and the story became not the monoclonal antibodies, but an arrest before DeSantis even took the mike.

Frazier was charged with trespassing and given a notice to appear, as first reported by Jim Piggott of WJXT. By evening, national outlets including The Washington Post had picked up the story and the name “Ben Frazier” was trending on Twitter. The activist’s social media following grew by several thousand.

Frazier himself tweeted about the incident with a sense of accomplishment, while

The fight for civil rights continues in Jacksonville, Florida!” he posted on Twitter. “This is not just a moment; this is a movement. Immense gratitude for the support today. Stop playing politics with the pandemic. Gov. Ron DeSantis put censorship and cancel culture on full display. Good Trouble resumes.”

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


37 comments

  • Frankie M.

    January 4, 2022 at 11:13 am

    Good to see these rabble rousers and insurrectionists being rounded up in paddy wagons by the Gestapo. Don’t these senior citizens have greeter jobs at WalMart to go to? You want to question a public official in a public space?? What do you think this is…America??? Next time Ronnie comes to Jax he needs to hold his dog & pony show to John Rood’s house (where nobody cares about masks, vax, or covid) aka Jacksonville Classical Academy.

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      January 5, 2022 at 5:28 pm

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  • Frankie M.

    January 4, 2022 at 11:25 am

    Next thing you know these people will wanna have a seat at our soda fountains too. Better to arrest them than answer their questions. Great optics for Ronnie’s “Get tough on Crime” re-election mailers. At least he can proceed with the press conference without fear of answering any uncomfortable questions from the media.

    • Jason

      January 4, 2022 at 3:01 pm

      You are a joke the Democrats are a joke you don’t like the way Florida is run then move to NY are CALIFORNIA this is a RED STATE 900 people a day moves here it’s not the pay it’s called the best governor in America 🇺🇸 that stands with true AMERICANS

      • Karl

        January 5, 2022 at 8:29 pm

        Did you go to school in FL also?

  • RvR

    January 4, 2022 at 11:31 am

    Frankie M pretty much covered it all…

    These press conferences seem to be pretty short on actual Press and questions and answers…

    • Jason

      January 4, 2022 at 3:08 pm

      There’s nothing to ADD this state will stay OPEN FOR BUSINESS WE NIT SHUTTING DOWN I DONT get it your are an adult act like an adult we not wiping 🧻 your butt you know what is out there it been here 2 years and a half do what to protect your self mask 😷 shot boaster don’t go in big crowds it’s that simple I had it November 2 years ago rest sleep 🛌 chills coughing 17 days down it’s life deal with it it’s not going to change and I thought BIDEN was running for president to put the end t this lol. What a joke for a president

    • Tom

      January 4, 2022 at 8:16 pm

      I watched the presser.
      The rebel rousers were forewarned,
      Un authorized access. Gov offered to visit with them.
      These are substantive sessions. Unlike pampers time with Biden.
      And giggles time Harris. How’s the test kits coming? How’s the fda commish ? How’s the therapeutics coming? Total incompetence and failure team Biden & Joe. Grade F
      The rebel rouser was arrested, belligerent, confrontational being. I’m sure the judge will put him in solitary confinement with no due process.
      Go scratch Frankie you Pud! J D and RVR no one cares. DeSantis will not be silenced by Soros backed sponsors.

      • Phil Morton

        January 5, 2022 at 8:31 am

        It was a press conference at the Public Health Department to ostensibly discuss public health. Seems someone decided the public was not invited. The “rebel rousers were forewarned” by a public notice of the press conference which did not mention that the public was not invited. I guess the wrong public showed up.

        • Tom

          January 5, 2022 at 1:08 pm

          Typical moronic illogic from Phil,
          All the old Manchurians are out. Morton J D, what a joke. Where are Alex & elmo peter h ?
          Motion you fill, a press conference does not mean public at large.
          Hopefully that protestor gets it now.
          You guys are a joke, hopefully mayor Dum Dum demings gets it too,

  • Jay D

    January 4, 2022 at 2:10 pm

    Ron only cares about Ron. Way to go Ron I bet you felt real big and brave after the arrest of an old man, now you can go sit at Trump dinner table and smile about not stepping down to the same people you need to Vote for you. Great job!!!!

    • Jason

      January 4, 2022 at 3:17 pm

      That guy is a democrat BLM joke activist he’s not worth are time you can keep the African American vote 🗳 give it to Biden this is Florida not NY Are California this is Florida JACK maybe that led guy should ask Biden how’s he is stopping this cov19 that’s what he ran on how about he asked him about high gas prices food prices the boarder killing the pipeline and millions of jobs and making everyone get vaccines 💉 I thought 💭 this was America 🇺🇸 when does government and a president say do this are lose your job sounds like a 3 rd world 🌍 county’s trump 2024 midterm 2022 bye 👋 bye Democrats

      • Hawgfan1964

        January 5, 2022 at 3:53 pm

        How do you say you’re a “B I G O T” without saying you’re a “B I G O T”? Idiots like you is why White Supremacy/Racism “STILL” exists. I see Mommy taught you well.

      • Karl

        January 5, 2022 at 8:32 pm

        Is english your first language?

    • Tom

      January 4, 2022 at 8:01 pm

      J D, you full Manchurian.
      Where you begin hiding. I suffered you gladly many times in 21.
      News flash, you still are an idiot!
      America’s Governor, the best!

      • JD

        January 4, 2022 at 9:09 pm

        You are still an idiot Tom the Totalitarian

        That was not the JD you are looking for.

        I haven’t posted on here since Oct 2 and don’t plan to other than the following. I’d bet that was you as “Jay D” trying to start shit.

        You have attempted to call out my moniker 1/2 dozen times. It is truly pathetic that I’ve lived in your brain rent free for around 3 months.

        I guess you don’t get anymore schadenfreude from abusing your Poli Sci students since retiring from that piss-ant community college? They still degree stamping since changing their name?

        Get a life – I don’t have time to mess with you.

        • Tom

          January 5, 2022 at 5:22 am

          LMAO, I called you out.
          Trying to change your moniker, yeah you welfare tenant. U try to live rent free. I suffer you and all your Manchurian school disciples happily. You have failed to teach them well. I have dominated them as I have you. Yes, you have run away for months from me. Did Soros provide u a bonus. He can’t pay you enough to deal with me.

          How’s Niki Fraud? Crispy Critters ? Alzie Biden? And giggles Harris? Mayor Pete. What a Pathetic team u have. Biden’s negative 15 in Florida. LOL
          Negative in 45 stateside, including blue.
          No take home tests? FDA commish? U said it was hard job. LOL. No new therapeutics, no old ones. What a joke you and your Manchurian nation are.
          I’ll bust your balls now. J D, you came back for more. You use to defend weasel Lincoln Org , predator Peter h and socialist Alex. Let’s go Pal !
          DeSantis is going to win bigly in Nov and W H is awaiting after, with this clown show in place. LMAO.

        • Tom

          January 5, 2022 at 5:27 am

          I’ve wiped the floor with you in initial the encounter! LMAO. Just like past.
          Those people were rebel rousers. Soros backed socialists. They showed up 40 mints early to set up conflict! Jay D you Manchurian. Get ready.

        • Tom

          January 5, 2022 at 5:40 am

          Get ready jay d the manchurian.
          Your students are a flop. Mine graduate with honors. I am a legend on FP. You live rent free cause you can’t pay.

          • MaggieC

            January 5, 2022 at 7:13 am

            If you teach as you write here on Florida Politics, I doubt your students graduate with honors, if they manage to graduate at all.

            Such hubris for such an inconsequential, semi-literate partisan hack with no discernment.

          • Concern Citizen

            January 5, 2022 at 9:23 am

            Legend? I believe you are known as Tiny Tom the Troll on this site. MaggieC is correct in her comment about you little guy.

        • Tom

          January 5, 2022 at 6:47 am

          J D or Jay D, Gov Ron, America’s Governor, the best! Are you imitating jay z now. LMAO.

          I’ve suffered you and your Manchurians gladly! How’s peter h, Lincoln predator and Alex socialist, so many I have annihilated, like yourself. You ran from me. LOL. That set up at the presser was child like. Nikki Fraud like, you defended her on the house and her earnings. I did no such thing pal. I’m a big boy, I play fair, unlike you and your Dums.

          It’s tough to be a Dum nationally and in Florida. What a bunch of losers. What present Incompetence at WH and Dems in Florida. You said governing is hard. LMAO. Clown show

          Game up J D. You know I bust balks and play hardball. Game up pal!

          • Tom

            January 5, 2022 at 1:11 pm

            Kiss ass unconcerned illegal citizen.
            J D. You got a new one for Manchurian school. He’s a total idiot.

          • Tom's Wife

            January 6, 2022 at 8:50 am

            Too bad that you never purchased DeSantis’s Golf Balls — the one that he was selling with the slogan — “Florida’s Governor Has A Pair”.

          • Tom

            January 9, 2022 at 10:58 am

            Fake moniker Tom. Thanks for continuing the legend.

  • tom palmer

    January 4, 2022 at 3:00 pm

    How dare anyone question Amerika’s Governor.

    • Tom

      January 5, 2022 at 7:56 am

      Oh Maggie, your liberal extremism is offended. Are you J D’s wussy, pussycat doll. Don’t get involved, J D is an Manchurian apologist. Dems are going to get smacked in Nov. He’s been hiding from me since I toasted him months back. He brought up junior college, not me. I have quite the following, of legend. Go scream on a corner with Nikki Fraud. America’s Governor will wipe the floor with you extremists. Enjoy!

    • Tom

      January 6, 2022 at 3:12 pm

      Obviously Alex, J D, or non concerned citizen or some other cheap Manchurian. LMAO

      My wife can’t get enough of them. Bigly. When scum bags like you all stoop to this, it just proves my “legendary” status. Thank you.

      Manchurian morons United! LOL

      • JD

        January 6, 2022 at 4:07 pm

        Listen Herr Stahl, you make assumptions I am a Democrat or even a Liberal. I’m not. I’m NPA with conservative leanings. And now it is my turn to bust your balls.

        What I have not supported Fried, or Biden in my posts. At most I have attacked the unfair institutions, like SuperPacs, campaign reform, and those pandering to people using false anger of the culture wars to curry votes.

        To that point, Fried’s recent use of digital currency is a bad thing as are there are no limits at the state level like there is in Federal campaigns.

        I could not care who is in office as long as they don’t attempt to rig the system in their favor and are ethical. However it seems they are all unethical and use the cliche term of “lesser of two evils”. So how that makes me a Manchurian is so far right, it makes you look like a crazy cultist is all. Jim Jones laid a plan out for you. Hitler as well if you need a roadmap.

        And never take my lack of time to slum with you on these comments as hiding from you. I have shit to do and you are not import enough that I will keep up the banter to infringe on that time. And you never “dominated me”, but only in your mind.

        While you may know Political Science, you seem to be devoid of ethics, and just a straight up ass. So keep goading like a 5 year old that got ice cream while his brother didn’t about the next “Red Wave”. It so makes you look legendary.

        • Tom

          January 7, 2022 at 11:05 am

          J D, my Manchurian chief!
          You appear upset.
          Lots of Wah, Wah coming from you.
          We can always count on a meaningless dissertation.
          Have no idea what you are saying.
          Just man churian up pal!
          I actually enjoy you J D. Happy New year pal ! I have other Manchurians to suffer gladly. I’ll take your word on your innocence.

          FYI, incompetent Joe/giggles Harris still have no FDA commish, I know you said it’s hard job. No new ordered tests either. No new Monoclonals or old. This incompetent living off of Trump still.
          What a clown show.

          I am full of ethics! Very Nice, and eat yogurt not ice cream. LOL, legendary!
          Ok J D go back to busy, take care.
          Wishing you well.

        • Tom

          January 7, 2022 at 11:48 am

          You worked overtime with your cheap dissertation related to Jones, cult and Hitler. Highly offensive and completely wrong.

          As for the use of “Manchurian” you all have become one minded, one thought, one singe purpose. The Dems use to have 5 positions on any given issue.

          Really J D, look at all the issues presented. The Dems vote lock step on everything. No disagreement, no variance on any topic. Far leftists Extremism gone wild. Attacking institutions is a weak way out, it’s people and elected officials that decide. You defending institutions of elites, as if they know better is Comic-able. We’ve seen the arrogance the last years. Now the Pelosi, scum Schiff, Dems love Liz and Dick Cheney. What a joke.

          I find your insults to be highly offensive. I actually wished you well in previous message, see total Manchurian, you all drink same tea.

          Feel free to defend all the slop that Biden has provided. It’s a disaster. Fried will lead you and Dems to Dem political annihilation. Crist not that much better. Enjoy.

  • Jason

    January 4, 2022 at 3:19 pm

    BEST Governor Ever Keep up the good work Florida will always be RED and WE WILL STAY OPEN THANK YOU RON for being an American 🇺🇸 for the true American people

    • SL Bee

      January 5, 2022 at 7:51 am

      Crawl back under your rock, uncle grandpa.

  • SL Bee

    January 5, 2022 at 7:50 am

    Der Dwarf is gonna dwarf.

    • Tom

      January 5, 2022 at 8:19 am

      You are an idiot queen SL bee.

  • Jim

    January 5, 2022 at 4:18 pm

    Too bad for them they weren’t White Cubans. Laws about protesting get ignored if you are a member of a group that votes Republican.

    • Tom

      January 6, 2022 at 6:00 am

      Ignorance is bliss.
      Typical Dummycrat

Comments are closed.


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