Florida man encases arms in concrete in protest of prison conditions during pandemic

"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," advocates said.
Protester Jordan Mazurek, 28, who cemented his hands in two 55-gallon plastic drums filled with concrete in the driveway of the Governor's Mansion, sits on the pavement while his vitals are checked by first responders, on April 17, 2020, in Tallahasssee, Fla.Alicia Devine / Tallahassee Democrat via AP
By Phil McCausland

A man in Florida encased his arms in barrels full of concrete outside the governor's mansion in Tallahassee on Friday in protest of the state's continuing to hold prisoners amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Tallahassee police arrested Jordan Mazurek, 28, around 10:30 a.m. after they cut him out of two 55-gallon drums of concrete that were connected by PVC pipe. Mazurek was first seen outside the mansion, where Florida Gov. Ron Desantis, a Republican, lives, at 6 a.m.

Mazurek wore a surgical mask and sat between the two black drums painted in white letters — one said "stop the massacre," while the other read "free prisoners now" — in protest of the living conditions of those who remain imprisoned amid the pandemic. At least four Florida inmates have died and thousands have been quarantined by the state, the News Service of Florida reported.

Tallahassee police officers attempted to talk Mazurek out of the protest because he had the power to remove himself from the barrels, but ultimately authorities brought in a jackhammer to break the concrete that surrounded his hands over a period of two hours, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

Three others helped Mazurek place the barrels for his protest and were spotted at the scene. Karen Smith, 45, tried to escape on foot, police said, and was arrested for fleeing the scene.

Mazurek, who was released after police arrested him for resisting arrest and obstructing justice, was not immediately available for comment, but the Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons, a group he helped found, said in a statement that the act highlighted the need for the governor to release inmates to protect against the spread of the coronavirus among the prison population.

"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," the group said. "Infection rates are over 10 times higher inside than outside, and this will only worsen if nothing is done."

The campaign said Mazurek's act was not taken on behalf of any individual or organization, but added that protests would "continue to escalate until action is taken to stop this preventable disaster from worsening."

Phil McCausland