Florida coronavirus: Protester calling for inmate release arrested for cementing himself outside governor’s mansion

Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – A Florida man concerned about the conditions in the state’s jails and prisons amid the coronavirus pandemic found himself behind bars after using concrete to cement himself in front of the governor’s mansion Friday morning.

Police say they were called to the governor’s mansion around 6 a.m. and found 28-year-old Jordan Mazurek with his arms seemingly cemented into two large barrels that read “Stop the Massacre” and “Free Prisoners Now.”

“He was protesting some element of the Department of Corrections,” Tallahassee Police Department PIO Kevin Bradshaw said.

Though Mazurek was able to remove his hands freely, police say he refused. Officials say they were forced to cut him out as Gov. Ron DeSantis’ children played on swings just yards away.

Mazurek was charged with resistance and obstruction without violence. He was also issued a traffic ticket for blocking the roadway.

A second protestor, 45-year-old Karen Smith was also charged with resistance and obstruction without violence after police say she ran from law enforcement agents when they arrived at the scene.

Mei Azaad is part of a group called Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons. The organization supported the protest. They’re advocating for inmate release.

“We’re expecting around 8,000 – possibly – people to die from this inside of prisons, jails, detention centers, juvies,” said Azaad.

This was the second protest demanding inmate release in Tallahassee this week. A car protest was held Monday.

“We’ve been warning the governor, we’ve been warning the correctional department for a month at this point telling them what is going to happen if they don’t release people and then we’ve seen our predictions come true,” said Azaad.

So far, 63 corrections staff and 44 inmates have tested positive. The majority of those are at a privately-run prison.

But Gov. DeSantis says he’s not in favor of releasing inmates, citing the case of Hillsborough County inmate Joseph Williams.

“This guy committed a murder after he was released,” DeSantis said Thursday. “Very, very dangerous and you know, we’ve got to always put the public safety first.”

There have been four COVID-19-related inmate deaths reported by the Department of Corrections so far.

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