Charges dropped for Jacksonville activist after arrest at city council meeting

Activist Ben Frazier took to the podium to discuss views on Confederate monuments and refused to leave

Ben Frazier's trespassing and resisting arrest charges were dropped Monday. (Attorney John Phillips)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Four months after the President of the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville was arrested and charged with trespassing and resisting arrest during a city council meeting in December, it was announced Monday that the charges were dropped.

Frazier was removed from a city council meeting in handcuffs on Dec. 13 after he refused to leave the podium once his time ended during public comment.

Attorney John Phillips, who is representing Frazier and Bob Rutter, who was also arrested that night, said prosecutors “overcharged” both men with trespassing, resisting arrest and municipal ordinance.

Phillips provided the following statement about the case:

“On December 13, 2022, local leader and founder and President of the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, Ben Frazier approached the podium during public commentary to address the years of indecision and indifference by city council related to the removal of Confederate monuments. The issue at hand was Mr. Frazier’s repeated requests that confederate monuments be taken down. It is an issue our City leaders continue to ignore. Public speaking time had been arbitrarily limited to 1/3 of what was normal to a total of 65 seconds. He was arrested while none of the 19 city council representatives offered any intervention, civil discourse or advice to the contrary. No one stepped down to offer assistance. Some watched through a private room. Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office arrested him, leaving his motorized scooter behind. A companion seeking to help him, Bob Rutter, was also arrested.”

Ben Frazier is escorted from city council meeting in handcuffs Tuesday night

RELATED: Community activist removed from city council meeting in handcuffs

In February, it seemed like Frazier’s case was at a standstill because the judge hadn’t heard the case yet. Phillips said at that time, three of the judges recused themselves from the case and that he was waiting on the fourth judge to do the same.

Phillips said Monday four judges recused themselves and one judge “specifically told prosecutors the charges should be dropped.”

Both of the charges were dismissed.

Frazier and Rutter pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge of failure to obey the rules of decorum and were ordered to pay a $50 fine. Frazier’s upcoming trial was scheduled for May 1.

Phillips also said The Northside Coalition plans to set up a legal fund for anyone similarly unfairly prosecuted.

About the Author:

As a proud alumnus of Bethune-Cookman University, Kendra is a Jacksonville native, who loves all things lifestyle-related.