JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida Lawmakers returned to Tallahassee on Tuesday to begin a special session to approve a new congressional map, proposed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
A Jacksonville group went to the state Capitol on Tuesday to deliver a message, saying the governor’s map will disenfranchise Black voters. Ben Frazier, with the Jacksonville Northside Coalition, said they plan to meet other groups in Tallahassee to rally on the Capitol steps.
“The governor needs to recognize that 17-percent of this state’s population is African-American -- 3.3 million,” Frazier said. “We want to be represented. He is supposed to be the governor, not just for some of the people. But for all of the people.”
Demonstrators stood together on the steps of the Capitol holding signs and erupting into applause.
“We have fought so long and hard to have equal justice, equal democracy, and it feels like a slap in the face,” said Ebony Hardy-Allen, an activist with the group Equal Ground.
“I feel like Black representation, our voice and who we are as a people, is trying to be erased out of Florida’s history—out of America’s history,” said Od’juan Whitfield Sr., and organizer with Faith in Public Life.
In Northeast Florida, the biggest changes center around District 5, Democratic Rep. Al Lawson’s district. It’s the area in Purple. (See map below)
Under the governor’s plan, it would only include parts of Duval and St Johns County. The rest of Lawson’s district would be spread across several other districts across North Florida.
News4JAX spoke with Lawson on Tuesday, and asked him about the governor’s plan.
“The governor is not the governor for everyone in the state of Florida and that’s what the governor should be doing. He’s only wanting to represent Republicans,” Lawson said.
DeSantis told News4Jax on Monday that is not the case.
“This whole issue is a serious constitutional issue,” DeSantis said. “People will say a lot of things but when the dust settles it will all make sense.”
DeSantis says the current map is unfair because of a ruling by the Supreme Court saying that race cannot be a primary factor in drawing districts.
If adopted, Republicans would also pick up four congressional seats.