Ben Frazier says Ron DeSantis wants to ‘silence’ critics
Image via WJXT

Frazier arrest
Frazier did a local TV interview Wednesday giving his side.

A Jacksonville journalist and activist arrested because he would not leave a Gov. Ron DeSantis news conference had his say on the incident Wednesday morning.

Ben Frazier, president of Jacksonville’s Northside Coalition, told a local television audience that he wanted to confront DeSantis about his “mishandling” of COVID-19 at the Wednesday morning event.

“This is not about partisan politics … not about race,” Frazier said. “We are sick and tired of him playing politics with the pandemic.”

“The Governor is trying to silence people he doesn’t agree with, or who disagree with him,” Frazier added. “It is extreme, radical, Republican right wing politics.”

Frazier said that “precious lives” were his concern, not DeSantis’ political ambitions, during the interview on WJXT with Vic Micolucci Wednesday.

Frazier, a 72-year-old man who has limited mobility, was handcuffed and removed from a conference room at the Department of Health’s Duval County location. He and others wanted to ask DeSantis questions and would not relent when approached by staffers.

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.” Those orders fell on deaf ears, with Frazier retorting it was a public event in a public building.

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. He was not transported to the Duval County Jail, but he was detained and given a notice to appear in court next week.

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

A spokesperson for the Governor compared Frazier and others to the Jan. 6 rioters at the U.S. Capitol.

DeSantis spox Christina Pushaw tweeted about the incident: “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!”

Frazier’s arrest made national news even before the Governor issued his remarks, which centered on the expansion of monoclonal antibody distribution in Jacksonville amid the latest COVID-19 surge.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at [email protected]


8 comments

  • Frankie M.

    January 5, 2022 at 9:06 am

    I must’ve missed the part about the storming of the Capitol(which was surrounded by police officers) on Jan 6th being advertised as a press conference. Members of the public can’t get into the Capitol most days whereas the department of health building is always open to the public usually for covid testing. I can see why Ronnie’s PR flack conflated these two events. Common sense is in short supply these days. Must be Ronnie’s authoritarian streak sneaking out.

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  • Marian newman

    January 5, 2022 at 10:26 am

    Ron DeSantis is a wannabe dictator and authoritarian. Let’s vote him out and let common sense back into the state. He wants to be president. Haven’t we had enough with this kind of thinking? Right wing people? I am basically in the middle. Conservative and socially bipartisan

  • Laura

    January 5, 2022 at 11:21 am

    DeSantis is a BULLY….He constantly makes threats to take away funding etc.if those don’t do as he says. Sounds like a Trump to me. He also has his tail between their legs followers. Get him out.

  • Alex

    January 5, 2022 at 1:49 pm

    That’s what far right freakshows do.

    All good people need to get out and vote EVERY TIME now.

    The stakes are too high not to.

  • Conservatives in Jacksonville

    January 5, 2022 at 9:49 pm

    Ben Frazier is a Al Sharpton wannabe. This was all a political stunt and the intelligent people see this. The Jacksonville city council see this. All this did was to alienate Frazier even more, if that was possible. He is all about destructiveness. You see how he was complaining about the Virus, yet he was yelling without a mask lol What a joke he is.

  • Tom

    January 7, 2022 at 8:44 pm

    I watched all the presser. DeSantis was great, they snuck in.
    This person, and others were belligerent rebel rousers. Govs staff made every effort to accommodate the individuals. They offered to meet. They were not quiet and they wanted confrontation, it is vital the Gov not be badgered, harassed or put in jeopardy. He must be safe at all Times.

    End of story! Period

  • SB

    January 17, 2022 at 6:16 pm

    These right-wing comments are pathetic. This was a non-violent protest yet (I watched the entire thing) we continue to see people try to justify last year Jan6 bullshit. Karma will catch up with that Florida governor for being responsible for so many lives in that state

Comments are closed.


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