Black Activist With Disability Faces Trespassing Charges for Protesting Confederate Statue

Black Activist With Disability Faces Trespassing Charges for Protesting Confederate Statue

Last week, a Black community activist and former journalist was arrested while protesting the removal of the remaining Confederate statues in Jacksonville, Florida.

Ben Frazier, 72, president of Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, attended a City Council Meeting following a rally at a nearby park, The Daily Beast reported. He addressed the council during the public comment portion of the meeting, but he spoke longer than his allotted time. Council President Terrance Freeman then notified him that his time had expired.

“The defendant refused to stop and continued repeatedly speaking loudly, which began to gain a reaction from attendees in the crowd,” according to the police report.

Moments later, police officers attempted to remove Frazier before he dropped to the floor. Officers said they asked and ordered him to stop resisting and peacefully leave, but he refused.

“Remove Confederate monuments,” Frazier chanted as he was apprehended. “Take them down.”

Frazier, who has a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis, uses a mobility scooter to transport himself. He was taken to the back of a police cruiser alongside elderly activist Bob Rutter.

“City Council President Terrence Freeman asked Mr. Frazier be escorted out of the meeting,” Frazier’s attorney, John Phillips, said in a statement. “Instead, he was arrested and taken to jail without his [American Disability Act] assistance devices.”

Frazier is facing misdemeanor trespassing and nonviolently resisting charges. According to Phillips, Frazier was released on his own recognizance without bond, but it has not been announced whether the state has dropped the charges, which were advised by the court, per First Coast News.

The judge set a court date for Jan. 9.

Today, a Confederate monument stands in Springfield Park. Community activists have rallied to have their voices heard about its removal as well as the base of the monument in James Weldon Johnson Park across from city hall, News4Jax reported.

“We knew to not do something or do something without involving the community is absolutely the wrong thing to do,” City Councilman Aaron Bowman previously said. “So, we said you know what, we got to look this issue head-on. Have the public meet and get educated and then we will take action letting everybody talk about it and bring in a committee together.”