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Activist handcuffed & removed ahead of Gov. DeSantis’ press conference in Jacksonville

The head of the group, Ben Frazier, was handcuffed and led out by police.
The head of the group, Ben Frazier, was handcuffed and led out by police.(Action News Jax)
Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 11:13 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 4, 2022 at 11:24 AM EST
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (WCTV/ANJ) - A leader of an activist group was handcuffed and removed from a briefing room before Gov. Ron DeSantis’ press conference in Jacksonville Tuesday morning. WJAX says the group is the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, which is active in issues including the removal of confederate monuments and public health.

Staff with the governor’s office asked them to leave as they were not “credentialed media.”

They refused, saying it was a public building and they had the right to ask questions of the governor.

The head of the group, Ben Frazier, was handcuffed and led out by police.

The moment was streamed live on the WCTV Facebook page.

“We’re here to hold the governor accountable,” said Frazier.

“That’s not the proper way to do that,” an organizer replied.

“What’s the proper way, sir, not to follow our First Amendment rights? Public expression, sir, it’s critical to our democracy. This governor has stood against our rights to protest and to assemble peaceably. It is wrong,” said Frazier.

Christina Pushaw, DeSantis’ press secretary, sent Action News Jax the following statement about the incident:

“Every citizen has the right to protest in public places but not to disrupt press events that are being held in secured facilities. Press conferences are for the media to cover information from the Governor’s office and state leaders that is important for the public to be aware of, and those who disrupt press conferences prevent information from getting to the public.”

WCTV was rolling on the feed provided by Action News Jax as it escalated.

The media briefing was originally scheduled for 10:15 a.m. at the Florida Department of Health building in Duval County. DeSantis was expected to be joined by Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, Florida Divison of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie and Helath Care Administration Secretary Simone Marstiller for the press conference.

The briefing began around 11:15 a.m. in a new room.

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