Prosecution of Jacksonville civil rights activist Ben Frazier may well happen, but it won’t be in the 4th Judicial Circuit.
State Attorney Melissa Nelson is appealing to Gov. Ron DeSantis to move the case out of the Northeast Florida circuit via Executive Assignment.
“Our office has a relationship with Mr. Frazier. In his capacity as a community activist, Mr. Frazier has routinely called upon our office to take certain actions related to investigations and other pending criminal cases. At times, Mr. Frazier has acted in the role of advocate, and other times, concerned citizen, and still at other times, adversary. Members of our office and I have both hosted and attended multiple meetings with Mr. Frazier. Indeed, over the last 18 months, our office has been engaged in dialogue with Mr. Frazier – at his invitation – to address various criminal justice issues unique to our community,” the letter to the Governor’s office reads.
Nelson asks that another circuit handle the matter.
This is just the latest turn of events in a story that got national attention when the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office walked the mobility-challenged Frazier out of the room in handcuffs after staffers for both the Governor and the Duval County Office of the Florida Department of Health failed to persuade Frazier and those with him to leave.
A man who described himself as a facilities manager told Frazier 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.
Officers brought Frazier to ground level and put him in the back of a police car while Frazier’s supporters looked on. He was not transported to the Duval County Jail, but he was detained throughout the Governor’s remarks and given the notice to appear in court next week.
When asked about this incident, the Governor was coy, which made national news even before he wrapped his remarks.
“I have no idea what happened,” DeSantis bluffed.
However, the counter-messaging began soon enough as 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!”