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Redistricting map passes despite objections from Communities of Color Coalition and councilors of color

Wednesday Aug 29, 2012
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By Mark Liu, Chinese 
Progressive Association

Last week, the Boston City Council passed a redistricting map, Docket #0985, by a narrow vote of 7-6. All councilors of color voted against this redistricting map. The Mayor now has to decide whether to sign or veto the map. Upon passage of this map, the Communities of Color Coalition on Redistricting awaits the decision of the mayor while it prepares 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 dilute minority voting strength. In the proposed map, the population of people of color ranges from a high of 95.3% in District 4 to a low of 31.6% in District 2.

"We are concerned that the map passed by the council today will unlawfully pack minority residents into district four, thus limiting their voting strength in the surrounding districts." said Rahsaan Hall, deputy director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice

The coalition believes that Docket #0985 unlawfully packs the vote of people of color into District 4 and takes out some of the most diverse precincts out of District 2, making it the least diverse district in Boston. The map takes out only one South Boston precinct out of District 2 and it is the most diverse district in the whole neighborhood. It also divides precinct 9-1, which contains Villa Victoria, a historic housing development, from the rest of the South End that is part of District 2. The coalition hopes the Mayor does the right thing and vetoes this map.

Coalition members include 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, and Project HIP-HOP.

City Councilor At-Large Ayanna Pressley’s floor statement on redistricting

"I have concerns with the map, docket 0985 before us and cannot support it. It has been a long process with months of meetings and many iterations of proposed maps. I appreciate the Chairman’s efforts in leading the Council through this process and all of my colleagues for participating actively.

But the clock has not run out. Though we may be fatigued by a long and thorough process, we must proceed forward not with a blind urgency but with deliberate urgency.

We, and more importantly all the residents of this city will inherit and live with the map we approve for the next decade. It will determine the future of voter participation and elections in this city for the next ten years.

It is imperative that with the emerging demographics of this city, we make every effort to ensure equitable representation, voice, power and influence in city elections. We have worked diligently to follow the laws governing the redistricting process not just because it’s required of us but because we know it is our duty to strive to reach that ideal. But I think we can do better, go a bit farther than docket 0985, the map before us does.

We are also facing a real threat of litigation. A lawsuit alleging that the City did not go far enough in ensuring an equitable voice and opportunity for residents of color is a terrible thing for this body, for our City and most importantly for residents.

I ask that we go back to the drawing board one more time."

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