Amid protests from Black lawmakers, and after shutting down the legislative chamber for a time, Republicans in the Florida House of Representatives passed a heavily gerrymandered congressional map proposed by the governor.
The map will now return to Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) to be signed into law, likely turning the current 16-11 Republican-Democratic split in Florida’s congressional delegation into a lopsided 20-8 Republican majority.
The map also eliminates a plurality Black district along Florida’s northern border with Georgia, and makes more conservative another the district, currently represented by Rep. Val Demings (D), in the Orlando area.
A little before noon, NBC News and WFSU News reported, Black lawmakers staged a protest in the center of the legislative chambers, chanting “stop the Black attack!” and wearing t-shirts with the same phrase.
The protesting lawmakers demanded that Republicans work with them to produce a map that preserved Florida’s Black congressional representation. (The legislature previously passed congressional maps that did just that, and they were vetoed by DeSantis, who called Rep. Al Lawson’s (D) district, which was drawn by the state’s Supreme Court in 2015, a “racial gerrymander.”)
House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R) attempted to stop the protest, ruling the lawmakers out of order, then gaveled the session into recess. The protests, including a prayer led by Rep. Dotie Joseph (D), continued:
One Republican representative referred to the protest as an “insurrection.” Members of the media were asked to leave the chamber’s public gallery as the protest continued, video from Politico’s Matt Dixon showed:
The House’s Republican majority subsequently reconvened. As state Reps. Angie Nixon (D) and Travaris McCurdy (D) chanted “stop the Black attack!” and “stand up, fight back!” the legislature passed the gerrymandered map, prompting applause from Republicans: