Florida cops needed two hours and multiple jackhammers to extricate a protester who’d jammed his arms inside a pair of concrete-filled 55-gallon barrels outside the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee on Friday.
Jordan Mazurek, 28, of Fort Worth, Texas, had trapped his arms inside the elaborately-rigged barrels to protest the state’s handling of prisoners during the coronavirus outbreak, police said.
One of the barrels bore the words “Stop the massacre” in white painted lettering, USA Today reported. The other read, “Free prisoners now,”
Police told the outlet that they knew Mazurek had the ability to remove his arms from the length of PVC piping inside each barrel — because they had seen him do so to adjust his mask.
But the barrels were designed to prevent his arms from being forcibly removed, police said.
Another man at the scene who asked USA Today to call him “August Spires” said he and other protesters at the scene “feel that there are people sitting in jail who are unable to make bond and they are being put unnecessarily at risk because they are too poor to pay.”
Prisoner rights advocates around the country have called for the release of detainees being held on bail due to concerns that the facilities cannot properly socially distance inmates or care for them should they fall ill.
Some states and municipalities, including New York City, have released high-risk detainees to protect them from the virus.
In Florida, 44 inmates and 63 workers tested positive for coronavirus as of Thursday evening, according to the state’s Department of Corrections. Another four inmates have died due to COVID-19, USA Today reported.
Last month, officials at Florida’s Hillsborough County Jail sprung 164 detainees considered low-level offenders — including one man who allegedly murdered someone the day after his release.