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Civil Rights Groups Slam New Proposed Congressional and State Maps that Divide and Disempower Communities of Color

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   

May 19, 2022   

Contacts: 
Carolina González
[email protected] | 212-739-7513   
Sarai Bejarano
[email protected] | 212-739-7581     

Civil Rights Groups Slam New Proposed Congressional and State Maps that Divide and Disempower Communities of Color
Unity Map Coalition of Black, Latino and Asian Groups Objects to Proposed Maps Because They Ignore “Communities of Interest”

New York, NY-  The Unity Map Coalition, a group of the leading legal voting rights advocacy organizations representing people of color in New York City, submitted to state court Judge Patrick McAllister objections to maps for new state Senate and Congressional districts drawn by an appointed Special Master ahead of a court decision expected Friday, May 20.

The Coalition, which drew redistricting maps for New York City based on 2020 Census data, questioned the maps drawn by Dr. Jonathan Cervas as disregarding “communities of interest,” including Black, Latino and Asian American communities in the state protected under the federal Voting Rights Act. Cervas was appointed as Special Master after a Court of Appeals decision earlier this month rejected maps proposed by a bipartisan redistricting commission. 

In addition to their objections to Cervas’ map, the Coalition members – LatinoJustice/PRLDEF, the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College, CUNY, and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund – submitted some solutions that the Special Master can use to correct some of the imbalances in his redistricting maps.

The Coalition urged the court to comply with New York State’s constitutional requirements, to keep communities of interest together, and to ensure that racial minorities have a full and fair opportunity to elect candidates of their choice, as also required by the Voting Rights Act.

“The Special Master’s proposed maps, if adopted, would greatly undermine the hard-fought voting power of the Latino population in New York City,” said Fulvia Vargas De-Leon, Associate Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “For example, the Bronx, the county with the largest share of the Latino population in our city, would be cracked into several districts, diluting Latino electoral power. Our democracy has no room for maps that ignore demographic growth, create districts that ignore communities of interest, and lessens voting power for historically disenfranchised groups. Redistricting cannot continue to be a zero-sum game where politics are held to a higher regard than protecting the vote of the people.” 

“This court also must adhere to the New York State requirements, as well as the Voting Rights Act, to ensure that racial minorities have a full and fair opportunity to elect candidates of their choice,” said Jerry Vattamala, Director of the Democracy Program of AALDEF. “Asian Americans had the largest growth in the state and in New York City – these proposed maps do not reflect this growth, do not follow judicial precedent and divide communities of interest.  The Unity Maps should guide the court on how to adjust these maps.”

“If adopted, the Special Master’s proposed maps will inflict grievous harm to electoral power in communities of African descent,” said Lurie Daniel Favors, Esq., Executive Director of the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College. “These maps divide multiple historic Black districts in Brooklyn and the Bronx, including Bedford Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, and Co-op City. By cracking these communities the Special Master’s maps dilute Black voting power at a time when voting rights are under attack nationally. The Unity Maps prove that our communities can be drawn into districts that adhere to legal principles and protect communities of interest. Those are the standards that should guide adjustments that the Court makes to the maps submitted by the Special Master.” 

Additional Materials:
Unity Map Coalition Objections to NYS Redistricting Congressional and Senate Maps

 

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About the UNITY MAP COALITION:
The UNITY MAP COALITION is comprised of the leading legal voting rights advocacy organizations representing people of color in New York City: LatinoJustice/PRLDEF; the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College, CUNY; and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. During the last Redistricting cycle in 2010-11, the Coalition successfully advocated for the adoption of its historic Unity Map for the 2010 Redistricting Congressional districts in NYC, the State Senate and Assembly, and the New York City Council. This Coalition rewrote redistricting history in NYS and serves as a model for the nation of collective advocacy and power sharing by diverse racial and cultural communities within a jurisdiction.

About LatinoJustice 
LatinoJustice PRLDEF works to create a more just society by using and challenging the rule of law to secure transformative, equitable and accessible justice, by empowering our community and by fostering leadership through advocacy and education. For nearly 50 years, LatinoJustice PRLDEF has acted as an advocate against injustices throughout the country. To learn more about LatinoJustice, visit www.LatinoJustice.org 

About AALDEF 
The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), a New York-based national organization founded in 1974, protects and promotes the civil rights of Asian Americans. By combining litigation, advocacy, education, and organizing, AALDEF works with Asian American communities across the country to secure human rights for all. AALDEF focuses on critical issues affecting Asian Americans including immigrant rights, voting rights and democracy, economic justice for workers, educational equity, housing and environmental justice, and the elimination of anti-Asian violence.

About The Center For Law And Social Justice At Medgar Evers College 
CLSJ’s mission is to address racial justice issues by providing quality legal advocacy, conducting community education campaigns, facilitating research and building organizing capacity on behalf of New Yorkers of African descent and the disenfranchised. To learn more about CLSJ visit www.CLSJ.org.