What is so wrong about wanting straightforward conversations regarding the housing, health care and education of not only Jacksonville residents, but for all Florida residents? That is the question Ben Frazier has for government officials, and he believes it’s time for answers.
A community activist, veteran journalist, news anchor, host, producer and narrator, Ben Frazier is a man who is not afraid to confront city and state leaders regarding the rights of the people. As founder of the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, Frazier has been fighting to give a voice to those who are repeatedly ignored ever since he was a boy marching with his mother in civil rights demonstrations. With over 200 awards for journalistic excellence, he knows how to make his voice heard.
That is exactly what Frazier did at a recent press conference held by Governor Ron DeSantis at the Duval County Health Department. He attended the press conference with the intention of addressing the governor’s mishandling of the pandemic and its disproportionate effect on the Northside. Frazier believes it is time for the governor to “stay on target and address the issues” and have reasonable, straightforward conversations. Based on claims of “trespassing” in a public building and disruption of a press conference, he was forced off of his mobility aid and made to walk out into the police car. He was charged with trespassing, but the charge was later dropped after the 7th Circuit State Attorney’s Office felt the public arrest was sufficient punishment.
Frazier, along with his attorney John Phillips (who also serves as publisher of Folio), asked for a simple meeting to make his points, which is what he’s been wanting since the beginning. A request for a meeting was made and sent Jan. 14, but they never received a response. Frazier questions what “they have to fear” about discussing the issues affecting Jacksonville, especially the Northside. He believes the governor, along with the city, has a second chance to make up for their lack of interest and “that second chance is called tomorrow.”
People around the country are responding to Frazier’s arrest and call to action. They are noticing the effort (or lack thereof) Florida’s governor has made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and many are displeased with it. Frazier’s arrest and unfair treatment was just the cherry on top of the angry sundae. Once again, he has made a call to action that the people intend on answering.
Whether you agree he is a victim of unlawful treatment at the press conference or disagree, Frazier is a man of the people, as he was described in a Folio article published in 2016. He makes it his mission to fight for the rights of the people. In his life, he has made history as the first African-American to anchor a major news show in Jacksonville. He has traveled throughout the country as a respected journalist and activist and has also received multiple awards on his behalf, including three Emmys. Frazier still uses these skills, fueled by loyalty and commitment to his community to stand up against injustice.
As president and founder of the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, Frazier makes it the group’s mission to “create positive and lasting change.” Most recently, the coalition has fought to remove Confederate monuments throughout Jacksonville in an effort to learn from our past mistakes and not honor them. The Northside Coalition fights against racial and social injustice and wants to see that programs are created to help residents with financial literacy, education, health, the arts and more. The coalition moves to reduce gun violence in Jacksonville, share information, move to offer government officials opportunity to help find solutions to the communities issues, and offer public officials the opportunity to work together to resolve issues within the community, as well asand promote community-led action for many worthy causes.
Ben Frazier believes, as a tax-paying American, he and everyone else should have the right to confront and ask questions of elected officials—especially in a public space—without needing a press pass or a personal invitation. Frazier, along with many others, thinks the right to questions our elected officials is a fair request to be made. The lack of information on issues that must be addressed and misinformation being spread are more reasons to stand up with the man of the people.