‘This governor does not care’: Demonstrators delay Gov. DeSantis news conference in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A group of demonstrators demanding to speak with Gov. Ron DeSantis regarding his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the start of a scheduled news conference in Jacksonville on Tuesday.

>>> STREAM CHANNEL 9 EYEWITNESS NEWS LIVE <<<

At least one demonstrator was removed from the room in handcuffs after officials said only credentialed media were allowed to attend.

“Tell him to stop running and hiding from the people,” the man escorted from the room, who identified himself as Ben Frazier with Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, said.

READ: ‘Where is Ron DeSantis now?’ Mayor Demings voices frustration over lack of state help amid surge

The news conference was scheduled to begin at 10:15 a.m. at the Florida Department of Health building in Duval County.

“He is an enemy of the people,” Frazier said. “When it comes to public welfare, this governor does not care.”

PHOTOS: Demonstrators delay Gov. DeSantis news conference in Jacksonville

READ: Coronavirus: CDC updates Pfizer-BioNTech booster recommendation

A member of the governor’s staff said the governor was happy to talk to the people, but that the news conference was not open to the public.

“We come in peace,” Frazier said.

The news conference began after 11 a.m. with DeSantis stating that Jacksonville is ready to open a monoclonal antibody treatment site if the federal government provides the supply of doses.

READ: Hospital data becomes latest battleground in COVID-19 information war

DeSantis did not address what happened prior to the news conference.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried released the following statement following the incident:

The extremely disturbing events we saw take place today, arresting an individual for simply asking to speak with the Governor at a press conference held on government property discussing public health policy, were a realization of our fears surrounding HB1′s enactment. HB1 set a dangerous precedent, disallowing individuals from speaking their minds and peacefully gathering - freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment. I hope that any charges brought against Mr. Frazier, a respected civil rights activist in the community, are swiftly dropped and apologies issued for infringing on his rights. The Governor should be ashamed.”

Stay tuned to Channel 9 Eyewitness News for updates.

Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.