A number of Florida’s House Democrats staged a protest on the floor of the Florida House to voice their opposition to Republicans’ efforts around congressional redistricting yesterday. Due to the protest, the Florida House’s procedures were temporarily halted. However, the protest was short-lived, and the House proceeded to approve Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ (R) proposed congressional map.
The Florida Senate had already approved the map, and the House was the map’s final stop.
While staging the protest, Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R-Palm Harbor) attempted to rule the select Democrats out of order, but the Democrats continued in their protest.
Florida State Representative Angie Nixon (D-Jacksonville) tweeted that DeSantis and the Republicans were attacking black districts. The controversy around DeSantis’ map is that it rearranges Congressional District 5, a majority-minority seat, and incorporates it into numerous districts across North Florida.
“Currently occupying the Florida House Chambers Floor,” Nixon said. “This is #ThePeoplesHouse we will not stand by and allow #DeSantis to eliminate Black districts. #StopTheBlackAttacks #FairDistricts”
Currently occupying the Florida House Chambers Floor. This is #ThePeoplesHouse we will not stand by and allow #DeSantis to eliminate Black districts. #StopTheBlackAttacks #FairDistricts pic.twitter.com/4LUpKWl5Yw
— Rep. Angie Nixon (@AngieNixon) April 21, 2022
DeSantis’ team has maintained the district is an unconstitutional racial gerrymander.
The protesting Democrats initiated the protest after their allotted debate time ran out and they sat on the state seal at the front of the Florida House. One Associated Press photographer’s media credentials were taken away and he was kicked out of the room as the sergeant-at-arms put the House on lockdown.
Florida State Rep. Dotie Joseph (D-North Miami), one of the most vocal opponents to the redistricting effort, led a group prayer during the protest and they could be heard singing “We Shall Overcome.”
“Right now, we’ve lined up all of the works of the Adversary – all of the works of the Adversary – seeking to divide us, seeking to distract us with a culture war,” Joseph said. “We refocused us on your two highest and greatest commandments: that we would love you and that we would love each other, and that people would know you by our works and how we treat one another.”
Florida State Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R-Howey-in-the-Hills) took to Twitter and claimed that one Democrat said “These maps passing is the same as Russia Invading Ukraine.”
One for the Democrats just said, “These maps passing is the same as Russia Invading Ukraine”
— Rep. Anthony Sabatini (@AnthonySabatini) April 21, 2022
Once the protest ended and the House passed the map, Sprowls released a statement saying the Democrats tried to “hijack the legislative process.”
“After offering multiple opportunities to debate the bills in an orderly way, we carried on and completed our constitutional duty to pass a Congressional map,” Sprowls said. “Ultimately, this group tried to drown out the voices of the other elected Representatives and the 22 million Floridians they represent.”
— Matt Dixon (@Mdixon55) April 21, 2022
Numerous Florida Republicans also took to social media and compared the Democrat’s seizure of time and the legislative process as akin to the January 6th storming of the United States Capitol.
“I hope the insurrection on the House Floor is dealt with appropriately. #LockThemUp” said Florida State Rep. Randy Fine (R-South Brevard County).”
I hope the insurrection on the House Floor is dealt with appropriately. #LockThemUp
— Rep. Randy Fine (@VoteRandyFine) April 21, 2022
I think we need a 4/21 committee.
— Blaise Ingoglia 🇺🇦 (@GovGoneWild) April 21, 2022
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