Florida legislature approves redistricting map amid protests

Published: April 21, 2022 1:05 PM EDT
Updated: April 21, 2022 1:23 PM EDT
Sen. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg speaks out against Senate Bill 2-C: Establishing the Congressional Districts of the State in the Senate Wednesday, April 20, 2022 at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. The bill passed 24-15 and heads to the House for final passage. (AP Photo/Phil Sears)

The Florida Legislature gave final approval Thursday to a congressional map pushed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis during a raucous session as Black lawmakers chanted in protest over what they say will diminish the state’s Black representation in the U.S. House.

The DeSantis map would increase Florida’s GOP representation in Florida and dismantles two districts now held by Black members of Congress.

The Florida House approved the measure along party lines after a brief delay when Black lawmakers staged a sit-in on the House floor. As debate on the maps was nearing an end, Reps. Angie Nixon and Tray McCurdy opened up their suit jackets to display “Stop The Black Attack” T-shirts and shouted the same phrase. They sat on the state seal in front of the House speaker’s rostrum and were soon joined by other other Black Democrats and other supporters.

The Republican-led chamber called a brief recess, all Republican lawmakers left the floor and the state Florida Channel temporarily stopped broadcasting the proceedings.

“This is good trouble! Necessary trouble!” Nixon shouted, echoing a phrase used by the late civil rights activist and congressman John Lewis.

The group sang “We Shall Overcome” and prayed. Some members went on Facebook to do live feeds of the protest. Nixon said in a text message to The Associated Press that the lawmakers would not leave the floor unless they were physically removed.

The Legislation was in special session to approve a new congressional map after DeSantis vetoed the maps lawmakers sent him. Republican leaders took a map from DeSantis instead of trying again to draw their own.