Members of the black caucus in the Florida Legislature today released statements denouncing a comment state Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, made following the state Senate’s passage of the final congressional and legislative districts.
Gaetz, the Senate’s redistricting chairman, made a comment to the Orlando-Sentinel about a lawsuit that followed the passage of the maps that Democrats in the Legislature called “shameful.”
“We were told … that we would be sued no matter what the lines were, no matter how the districts were drawn,” Gaetz said, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “My father used to say, ‘Some people would complain if you hung them with a new rope,’ and I think we had people who all along had a lawsuit strategy and hoped that somehow they could find some judge, somewhere, who would agree with their contentions.”
The reference to ropes and being hanged prompted legislators to release statements blasting Gaetz for the remark.
State Rep. Perry Thurston, D-Plantation, said “racially inflammatory statements are always inappropriate, especially by an elected official.”
“Today, I read with a great deal of disdain and disappointment a highly insensitive remark by Senator Don Gaetz, who should immediately apologize to all Floridians for his extremely inappropriate comment,” Thurston continued. ”The senator’s comment is especially appalling given that it is made in connection to the issue of redistricting, in which there is considerable history of racial minorities being deprived of adequate representation. The senator’s comment is harmful, hurtful and shameful.”
State Rep. Mia Jones, D-Jacksonville, said in a statement that
Senator Gaetz’ use of such highly charged and disturbing language has absolutely no place in this important discussion about the future of Florida. His remarks are extremely inappropriate. But in spite of his comments, I urge my colleagues in the Legislature and all Floridians to take the high road. I believe it is important that we continue to elevate the public discourse as we seek a fair and just system that protects the voting rights of all.
Today the Florida Legislative Black Caucus partnered with the NAACP to host The State of Black Florida 2012, an event focused on minority voting rights.