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Activist taken into custody during City Council meeting in Jacksonville

Inside the meeting Tuesday night, Frazier repeatedly yelled 'take them down' and 'I won't leave' before being dragged out by officers.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Ben Frazier of the Northside Coalition has been taken into custody during the Jacksonville City Council meeting Tuesday night.

This amid mounting pressure again to take down Confederate monuments in Jacksonville. It was not on the agenda for the City Council meeting Tuesday, but was the talk of protesters outside.

Frazier led the protest, renewing calls for the removal of said monuments.

Inside the meeting, Frazier spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting but went past his allocated time.

His microphone was cut off, but Frazier continued to shout 'take them down' and 'I won't leave'. 

The council directed the Sergeant at Arms to remove Frazier and another man who came up from the crowd to also cause a disruption.

Frazier was dragged out by officers while asking if he was being arrested. He was then taken to be held inside a police vehicle.

Credit: FCN
Ben Frazier was arrested Tuesday night at a Jacksonville City Council meeting.

Frazier's lawyer, John Phillips, was in attendance at the meeting and later posted this statement on Twitter:

"At tonight’s city council meeting, public comment was limited to 1/3 of total time. One minute and 5 seconds. It saw people dressed up as Santa falsely claiming to be from the North Pole supporting keeping confederate monuments in place. Others lost civility at no consequence.

Seeking to hold the city to its promise of removal, longtime community activist and client Ben Frazier spoke closer to the 3 minutes of allocated time.City Council President Terrence Freeman asked Mr. Frazier be escorted out of the meeting. Instead, he was arrested and taken to jail without his ADA assistance devices. Ben also has publically battled cancer. We hope he will receive proper care and attention to his healthcare limitations.

We will appear in court for him tomorrow and speak about this further at a later time."

Frazier wasn't the only one there to voice his thoughts on the issue - community members on both sides showed up.

Before Frazier was removed from the building, dozens of people made sure to get their two cents in.

Members of Northside Coalition and Southern Women Against Guns gathered for a rally before the meeting.

"Enough is enough," said one community member. "Racism is old and has no place in our society today. Nobody wants to see monuments that remind them of slavery and abuse in the past."

There was also a sea of red - supporters of the monuments.

"It represents the sacrifices of women between 1861 and 1865," said a community member with a different perspective. "Some of them losing their lives. Some of them losing their families, but all enduring one of the hardest periods in Florida's history."

Councilmember Tyrona Clark-Murray wasn't on the council when it last debated the issue, but says she's open to the council taking it back up again or putting it on a ballot for voters to decide.

"I'm good either way," said Clark-Murray. "I know where I would stand if a vote was presented to city council and it was solely in our hands. I know exactly where I would stand."

The city council previously voted down Mayor Lenny Curry's proposed legislation and voted down proposed legislation by Council member Matt Carlucci to remove the remaining monuments.

This is not the first time Frazier has been taken into custody for voicing his beliefs.

In January 2022, he was taken into custody during a press conference hosted by Governor Ron DeSantis.  

The governor asked anyone who is not the “media” to leave the area. Frazier argued that he had a right to peacefully assemble in a public building and ask DeSantis questions.

After some back and forth with staffers, Frazier was placed in handcuffs.

Frazier says he was held in the back of a JSO cruiser outside the Florida Department of Health in Duval County for 45 minutes and given a citation for trespassing after a warning for that incident.

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