Civil Rights Coalition Applauds U.S. Department of Justice Review of Michigan Redistricting
DETROIT, Dec. 22, 2011
DETROIT, Dec. 22, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Detroit Branch NAACP, the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus (MLBC), Latino Americans for Social and Economic Development (LASED) and the United Auto Workers (UAW) filed a legal challenge to Michigan's Redistricting process in Federal District Court on December 8, 2011. This coalition of civil rights and labor groups welcomes a review of the State's electoral maps by the Voting Rights Section of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). On Wednesday, December 21, 2011, Justice Department lawyers conferred with the coalition's attorneys.
"We are extremely pleased that the Justice Department has opened an inquiry into Michigan's discriminatory legislative redistricting process," says Atty. Melvin Butch Hollowell, General Counsel, Detroit Branch NAACP. Robert Popper, the Deputy Chief of the Justice Department's Voting Rights Section, and Department lawyer Victor Williamson are assembling facts to determine whether Michigan's Plan violates the 1965 Voting Rights Acts. As of November 1, 1972, Michigan is one of 16 "covered jurisdictions" or states whose redistricting plan must be "pre-cleared" by the Justice Department because of the state's history of discrimination in elections.
"In an assault on the voting rights of the African-American and Latino electorate, Michigan's redistricting maps willfully dilute the vote of the state's voters of color, just as our percentage of the population has increased," says Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, President, Detroit Branch NAACP. "The Justice Department's involvement is appropriate. They are the country's guardian agency for protecting the vote and there is a national effort underway to suppress the vote of the African American electorate."
By forcing out 50% of the African-American State Representatives in the City of Detroit, as compared to 2% of the White State Representatives, and by splitting in half the heart of the Latino community in Southwest Detroit, the State has prevented voters of color from electing candidates of their choosing, which is illegal under the Voting Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
"Michigan's Latino community is the State's fastest growing population, and is poised to exercise its voice in the political process," says Atty. Lawrence Garcia, Counsel, LASED. "We look forward to working with the Justice Department to reverse Michigan's unfair redistricting plan."
Plaintiffs are seeking an injunction and the appointment of a Special Master to redraw the state map in a manner that comports with the law. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman.
"There is no more fundamental right that we have as Americans than the right to vote. Therefore, we are pleased that the Justice Department is now involved, and we will do all we can to provide Department lawyers and analysts with information that we hope will be useful in their review of this matter," says Hollowell.
The Detroit Branch NAACP is the organizations largest branch. For more information on the Detroit Branch NAACP please call (313) 871-2087 or visit www.detroitnaacp.org.
SOURCE Detroit Branch NAACP