Jacksonville community activist Ben Frazier is home after he was arrested Tuesday night at a Jacksonville City Council meeting. The president of the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville is charged with resisting officers without violence and trespassing, it comes after he refused to end his public comment after it ran over the allotted time.
The arrest report said Council President Terrance Freeman ordered him to be removed. When officers tried to physically do so, it says Frazier dropped to the floor and refused to make an effort to leave.
Frazier spoke with Action News Jax after being released and said staying put at the podium was to make a statement.
“If we have to continue with more nonviolent demonstrations then that is what we will do, what we’d rather see happen is city council express moral and ethical courage and not political cowardness,” he said.
It all comes over two years after Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry ordered all confederate monuments in the city to be removed. The mayor tweeted on Tuesday night that he’s given city council the budget it needs to remove the monuments saying, “They have decided to ignore the issue, each member should take a position. Yes or no on monument removal. Take a vote. Do your job on tough issues.”
Jacksonville City Councilmember at-large group four, Matt Carlucci told Action News Jax there’s currently $500,000 in the capital improvement program, which came from the mayor and can be used to remove the monuments. We asked him when the deadline is to vote on a possible removal.
“I think we can move on that at any point in time now because it’s in the CIP, it may take higher of votes to get that done but money is in the capital improvement program to remove the monuments,” he said. “The longer we take to have more conversation, which we’ve had for decades, I mean how much more do we have to talk about this? It’s about pulling a Band-Aid off slow or ripping it off and moving onto the next issue we have, and we have a lot of them out there.”
Carlucci said this is a council issue and that they need to solve it.
“There seems to be a lack of political will, I just have 18 friends and colleagues on the council, most of which I disagree with, and I hope they change their minds,” he said.
Frazier’s arrest report said he passively resisted officers until being removed from the building. He told Action News Jax that he, along with the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, will continue to show up to public meetings to make their voices heard.
He said, “If it means more jail time to get confederate monuments removed, then so be it.”
“It is my intent to fight with every ounce of energy and breath in my body until the monuments are removed,” he said.
Frazier is due in court again Jan. 9.