Police boot activists from Florida Gov. DeSantis’ news briefing after they refuse to leave

Florida police removed several community activists from Gov. Ron DeSantis’ news conference on Tuesday after the group showed up demanding challenges to the governor’s policies on coronavirus among other things.

Live video feed showed police handcuffing one of the protestors while leading the rest of the group away. The police confronted the protestors after they refused to leave a state Health Department building in Jacksonville, which was the location for the governor’s briefing.4

“The governor is afraid to meet with the people,” said Ben Frazier as an officer handcuffed him. Frazier, 71, is the president and founder of the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville. “When it comes to public welfare, this governor does not care,” he continued. Following his arrest, he was taken away in the back of a police cruiser and cited for trespassing. 

The group could be seen in the video waiting in the news briefing room while waiting for DeSantis to arrive, saying they wanted to talk directly to the governor.

“I want to talk to the governor about his policies regarding the pandemic, regarding critical race theory, regarding House Bill 1,” said one of the protestors, noting an anti-riot law, after a man who said he was a facilities manager told the activists they needed to leave because they were trespassing.

Once the group refused to leave, a woman who said she was with the governor’s office said they were being inappropriate and asked media recordings to stop and prepare for the news conference. Police then intervened.

Florida Democrats quickly criticized the incident, saying: “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,” said Rep. Angie Nixon, a Jacksonville Democrat.

But Christina Pushaw, a DeSantis spokeswoman, defended Frazier’s removal, citing the fact that he was blocking the public from hearing the news conference. “Every citizen has the right to protest in public places – but not to trespass in a secured facility in order to disrupt a press briefing and prevent essential information from being conveyed to the public,” she said in a statement.

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