Florida police arrested an unusual protester outside of the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee after he encased his hands in barrels of concrete.
Jordan Mazurek was arrested last week during his protest over prison conditions amid the coronavirus outbreak after he essentially trapped himself in two barrels filled with concrete and prompted a two-hour process of firefighters working to free him.
(Source: USA Today)
“Stop the massacre,” was written on one of the drums while the other sported the phrase, “Free prisoners now.”
The 28-year-old, who was seen around the fenced area of the mansion about 6 a.m. last Friday, fit two PVC pipes into the two 55-gallon plastic containers and used some type of carabiners to “prevent his arms from being forcibly removed, but he could unclip himself if he chose,” Tallahassee police spokesman Kevin Bradshaw said, according to USA Today.
“He refused to let go so we ended up having to use heavy equipment,” he added.
Police reportedly tried to dissuade Mazurek, who describes himself on social media as a sociologist from Fort Worth, Texas, and the “national organizer and co-creator of the Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons.” Once he decided to go ahead with his protest, the process of extricating him using jackhammers began.
According to court records, Mazurek was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor count of resisting an officer without violence. He was released later the same day on $500 bail. Friends apparently brought him to the Governor’s Mansion and Karen Smith, who took off when Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents approached was later charged with misdemeanor resisting without violence, according to Bradshaw.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis was reportedly in Fort Lauderdale for a coronavirus news conference, but his wife, Casey DeSantis, was seen behind the fence as firefighters worked on freeing Mazurek, pushing her children on swings.
Last week, protesters circled the Capitol complex and the Department of Corrections’ headquarters in their vehicles to demand the release of inmates in Florida prisons and jails due to fears of becoming infected with the coronavirus. That protest was organized by a group called Capital City Mutual Aid and warned of the lack of proper medical care in the facilities and the inability to socially distance in close quarters. Last week, the state’s Department of Corrections had indicated that there were 85 confirmed coronavirus cases and four inmates had died.
Mei Azaad, a spokeswoman for the “Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons,” the group Mazurek is associated with, indicated that they knew about his protest but had not organized it.
“This was an escalation to show some people in power that we are serious,” Azaad said. “Our end goal is that everyone in prison should be released. But it should start with the most vulnerable.”
“In the past weeks, community members warned the governor of the public health disaster that would take place inside and outside of so-called correctional facilities if nothing is done to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” the group said on its website. “Today’s demonstration happened after other avenues were exhausted, and after infection rates have been climbing daily in Florida’s prisons, jails, and detention centers.”
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