Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during an event

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on February 24, 2022 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Dems Chant 'Black Votes Are Under Attack' as Florida GOP Rams Through DeSantis' Map

Republicans are "drunk on power and bullying anyone in their way into submission," warned Democratic state Rep. Anna Eskamani.

Jake Johnson

Florida's Republican-controlled House voted along party lines Thursday to approve a congressional map drawn by the office of right-wing Gov. Ron DeSantis, a move that came after state Democrats staged a sit-in on the chamber's floor to condemn the redistricting plan as unconstitutional and racist.

The map, which cleared the state Senate on Wednesday, now heads to DeSantis' desk for his signature—a mere formality given that he preapproved the district lines at the behest of the state Legislature's Republican leaders, who ceded control of the process.

"We are here taking a stand to stop the attacks, stop the Black attacks."

As the vote took place, Florida Democrats chanted that "Black votes are under attack," echoing experts' warnings that the map is "deeply racist." The New York Times reported Wednesday that the redistricting plan "would end the congressional career of [U.S.] Representative Al Lawson, a Black Democrat from Jacksonville, by carving up a district that stretches across North Florida to combine Black neighborhoods in Jacksonville and Tallahassee."

"It would also eliminate an Orlando district held by Representative Val Demings, a Democrat, and pack Black voters from two districts in Tampa and St. Petersburg into one, creating a second district certain to be won by a Republican," the Times noted.

The map, which heavily favors Republicans overall, is expected to face legal challenges.

The House vote Thursday was held after a group of Florida Democrats, led by Black lawmakers, disrupted debate on the congressional map by taking control of the floor and holding a sit-in and a prayer-in.

"We are here taking a stand to stop the attacks, stop the Black attacks," said state Rep. Angie Nixon (D-14), who helped lead the demonstration. "We need to ensure we adhere to fair districts. We need to ensure all Floridians have a voice... What they do to one of us they do to all of us."

The Miami Herald reported that "an hour into the protest, House officials appeared to have cut off the wifi as protesting lawmakers were posting live videos." The House sergeant-at-arms also removed an Associated Press photographer from the floor.

Following a brief recess, Republicans returned to the chamber and pushed through the map.

"This is not democracy," state Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-47) tweeted following the vote, warning that Republicans are "drunk on power and bullying anyone in their way into submission."

Last week, as Common Dreams reported, the Republican leaders of Florida's Legislature announced that they were "awaiting a communication from the governor's office with a map that he will support," effectively handing DeSantis the power to craft the state's congressional districts ahead of the crucial 2022 midterm elections.

"The governor's map is a blatant and illegal partisan gerrymander."

The Republicans' move came after DeSantis vetoed a congressional map that state lawmakers approved last month, demanding more aggressive action targeting a pair of districts represented by Black Democrats.

At present, the Washington Post noted Wednesday, "Florida has 27 congressional districts, 16 of which are represented by Republicans and 11 by Democrats."

"Under the new map, which was proposed by DeSantis himself, Republicans would probably represent 20 districts while Democrats would represent eight," the newspaper added.

In a series of tweets on Thursday, the ACLU of Florida argued that "the governor's map is a blatant and illegal partisan gerrymander."

"These maps clearly sever Black communities across the state, manipulate the lines to favor the governor's party, and diminish minority voting ability in violation of the Fair Districts requirements—which were enshrined in the Florida Constitution by a supermajority of Floridians," the group added. "Leaders of the Florida House and Senate abdicated their responsibility to craft a fair, constitutional map and ceded its authority to a governor who is clearly not interested in respecting Fair Districts."

This story has been updated to include comments from the ACLU of Florida.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

AIPAC's Super PAC Spends Millions to Defeat Summer Lee, Other Progressives

Groups tied to the powerful anti-Palestinian rights lobby have run ads attacking Lee in Pennsylvania and former Bernie Sanders organizer Nida Allam in North Carolina.

Julia Conley ·

Kremlin Says Russia Now Considers US, European Allies 'Hostile States'

"What they are doing is war," declared Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Jake Johnson ·

With 5 States Holding Primaries Today, Here's a Rundown of Progressives on the Ballot

Several races feature left-leaning candidates who could help shift the balance of power in the House and Senate.

Kenny Stancil ·

Decarbonizing US Energy System Would Save 50,000 Lives and $600 Billion a Year: Study

The findings, the authors write, "offer a clear rationale for mitigating climate change on public health grounds."

Andrea Germanos ·

'Dark Money Is Dark Money': Sanders Calls on DNC to Ban Super PAC Cash in Primaries

"A super PAC is a super PAC, whether it is funded by Republican billionaires or Democratic billionaires," said Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo