Groups speak out ahead of congressional redistricting

Published: Apr. 18, 2022 at 12:51 PM EDT
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Several civil rights groups came together Monday to voice their displeasure with the Florida Legislature as lawmakers prepare to hold a special session regarding congressional redistricting.

Faith in Florida's Palm Beach chapter was joined with UNIFY Palm Beach County, the South County Chapter of the NAACP, the Palm Beach Black Caucus and the Delray Alliance Voters League.

The voting rights activists spoke at St. James Missionary Baptist Church in Riviera Beach regarding what they see as an injustice.

Gov. Ron DeSantis recently vetoed congressional redistricting maps passed during the regular session, prompting Tuesday’s special session.

DeSantis considers the boundary a racial gerrymander.

"We are not going to have a 200-mile gerrymander that divvies up people based on the color of their skin. That is wrong," DeSantis said recently. "That is not the way we've governed in the state of Florida."

The Florida Legislature’s leaders sent a memorandum to lawmakers last week saying legislative staff will not draw new congressional maps.

Instead, House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson are asking DeSantis to give them one.

"Republican leadership has indicated that they will surrender their constitutional duties to draft a redistricting plan and will instead approve the governor's new proposed map," said Pastor Rae Whitely of Faith in Florida.

Critics said this action will slash Black representation in Congress in half.

"Remind them that they work for the people of Florida, not Gov. Ron Desantis," said Alisia Harriel of Faith in Florida. "That means that it’s their responsibility to pass fair maps."

Analysts believe the governor’s version of the map could net Republicans four congressional seats. Critics said the move also weakens the minority vote.

"We're still struggling for the same thing that we were fighting for back in the 1960s. Why is that?" said Morris Carstarphen of Divine Nine. "We're the only race of people in this country ... that have to do what we're doing. Why is that?"

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