It's been months of protesting for Black Lives Matter all across the country as people continue to take action on the streets to demand that police be defunded and to reimagine community safety. From July 24, 2020, to July 28, 2020, Orlando protesters committed to protesting five days straight in response to the 15 million dollar budget increase Orange County, FL has proposed for the Sheriff's Department.
These funds need to be used towards community efforts, and both Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer urgently need to recognize that racism is a public health crisis.
The people need this money, not the police.
In addition to the budget increase for the sheriff's department, it was announced that Universal Studios Florida would be given $5 million from Orange County, while citizens continue to suffer. A group of protesters took the streets near Universal Studios on July 24, 2020, to raise their voices and demand that money be directed towards social services for the people of Orange County.
I spoke with one protester, community organizer Maxwell Frost, for this article. This is what he told me.
After hours of chanting and marching through the theme parks' streets, the group started to head back to their cars at the end of their successful protest. However, right before they were able to reach their vehicles, the police started to surround and arrest protestors.
A cop approached Frost and told him to move to the sidewalk. The cop then kicked Frost's legs, handcuffed, and arrested him. As Frost looked around, he noticed that five other organizers, including a minor, were also pressed on the ground, getting arrested for just standing on the road.
The group that was arrested was forced into the back of a police truck, where it was entirely pitch black with no air conditioner. They were taken to the police department, then jail, where correctional officers mentally and/or physically abused them. One correctional officer asked the police why they were arrested, and they responded with, "disorderly conduct."
However, once Frost quietly corrected him answering "peaceful protesting" he was thrown against the wall and sent to a freezing holding cell for six hours, without a mask, in a shit-stained room, with three other people. A thin bench outlined the cell, which wasn't even long enough for someone to lie down on. Frost was denied a phone call for those six hours.
During this, another protestor asked a correctional officer for a Band-Aid, as during his arrest, he was scratched and started to bleed. The CO looked at him and said, "You shouldn't have protested then."
How are these conditions supposed to rehabilitate people?
As I talked to Maxwell Frost he said, "They think the bullying and harassment is discouraging the protests, but this is actually what's encouraging it."
After Frost's "adult time out" was over, he was sent to a processing room from 2 a.m. till when he got released at 9 a.m. in the morning. For the entirety of the night, the correctional officers didn't give him a bed to rest on... only a wood chair.
The next day, despite being in jail for 11 hours, Frost was back out fighting for justice on the streets. The Orlando Police Department was trying to set an example of protestors. Their attempt to silence and scare us is exactly why we need to keep fighting for the defunding of the police.
We won't stop organizing, protesting, and holding elected officials accountable until they start putting the people first. Their attempt to stop protestors by locking them up will not work. The movement continues.