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Communities of Color Prepared to Sue City over Proposed Redistricting Map


Redistricting Map Takes First Step towards Approval

A coalition of diverse groups from across the city is prepared to sue the city over the new redistricting map that was approved on Wed, Aug 22 at the weekly City Council meeting by a margin of one.

This map was introduced by Councillor Linehan, Docket #0985.  To be accepted, all that was required were seven or more councilors voting in favor and that is what happened.  The plan has and continues to come under fire with complaints that it reduces the political influence of the city’s people of color.

The plan still requires the mayor's signature.  If Mayor Thomas M. Menino does not sign onto the new map, nine city councillor votes will be required to overrule his veto and make the proposed map ­official. Menino hasn't committed one way or another.

“We will review this map to make sure all residents are properly represented,” Menino said in a statement Wednesday. “We will take a close look before making any decisions.”


Coalition of Communities of Color Prepared to Sue

A coalition of local organizations representing communities of color vowed to sue the city if the map becomes law.

With more than one year of conversation, debate and compromise behind the map that redraws the city's nine districts, the technical focus is to make sure that population shifts are accounted for so that each district has a comparable number of voters.

It's the "comparable" part of that objective that underlies the issues of the coalition.  Redistricting takes place after the every 10 year US census.  It should be noted that none of the councilors of color voted for this map.  What does that tell "you"?

Councillors Voting in Favor
  • Bill Linehan of South Boston
  • Frank Baker of Dorchester
  • Mark Ciommo of Brighton
  • Robert Consalvo of Hyde Park
  • Salvatore LaMattina of East Boston
  • Stephen J. ­Murphy of Hyde Park (at large)
  • Matt O’Malley of Jamaica Plain.

Councillors Voting Against
  • Tito Jackson of Roxbury
  • John R. Connolly of West ­Roxbury (at large)
  • Charles Yancey of Dorchester,
  • Ayanna Pressley of Dorchester (at large)
  • Felix G. Arroyo of Jamaica Plain (at large)
  • Michael P. Ross of Mission Hill.

Basis for Lawsuit

Upon passage of this map, the coalition is preparing for a lawsuit against the city, on the grounds that the packing of District 4 is in direct violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race. In the proposed map, the population of people of color ranges from a high of 95.3% in D4 to a low of 31.6% in D2.

“We are concerned that the map currently being considered will unlawfully pack minority residents into district four, thus limiting their voting strength in the surrounding districts. Coalition members were pleased with the state redistricting process that resulted in legislative and congressional districts that increased majority-minority districts and avoided litigation, that does not seem to be the case with the city’s redistricting committee” said Rahsaan Hall, deputy director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice.

The Coalition believes this map is an egregious violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It is the exact opposite of what the coalition has been advocating for over the last year which has been ‘Don’t Crack 2/ Don’t Pack 4.’

If this map were to pass and be adopted, the result would be the disenfranchisement of voters in the South End, South Boston, Dorchester and Mattapan. In a city that is 53% people of color, it is unacceptable that any district would have a population of people of color so low or so high.

In the 10 years that the Boston City Council has had 4 minority-majority district seats on the council, only two of those seats have been filled by a person of color.

The coalition is not asking for huge changes – District 2 should remain whole and there should be increased opportunities for people of color in districts 3 and 5.

Coalition members
  • Castle Square Tenants Organization
  • Chinatown Resident Association
  • Chinese Progressive Association & Chinese Progressive Political Action
  • Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA)
  • MassVOTE
  • NAACP-Boston Branch
  • ¿Oíste?
  • Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice
  • Project HIP-HOP.

Contacts

Boston NAACP - Sean Daughtry, 617-427-9494, ext. 330>
MassVOTE - Cheryl Crawford/ Avi Green - 617-542-8683
Chinese Progressive Association - Mark Liu - 617-851-1327
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice - Rahsaan Hall- 781 910-5215


Alejandra St.Guillen
Executive Director
¿Oìste?
59 Temple Place
Suite 337
Boston, MA 02111
(617> 426 - 6633
(617> 426 - 0324 (fax>
astguillen@oiste.net

Posted: August 23, 2012     Nancy J Conrad


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