Civil Rights Groups Announce Unity Map for NYC Council Redistricting and 9/4 Press Conference
The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), LatinoJustice PRLDEF, National Institute for Latino Policy (NILP), and the Center for Law and Social Justice (CLSJ) of Medgar Evers College have released the NYC Council Unity Map, a joint proposal for new City Council districts that reflects New York City’s changing demographics and protects the voting rights of Blacks, Latinos, and Asian Americans.
AALDEF, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, NILP, and CLSJ will hold a joint press conferenceon the Unity Map onTuesday, September 4 at 11 AM on the steps of City Hall. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or 212.966.5932 ex.217.
Please note the updated press conference time.
The Unity Map is the opening salvo in a long process to recast the City Council’s district borders as required by law every ten years. The NYC Districting Commission will release its draft of the new council borders on Sept. 5. (View a timeline of key dates in NYC Council redistricting.)
The Unity Map was drawn according to the following criteria: a) adhere to the “One Person-One Vote” requirement of the U.S. Constitution; b) comply with the Voting Rights Act; c) protect communities of interest, as required by the New York City Charter; and d) preserve traditional and emerging neighborhoods.
“We urge the Districting Commission to adopt the Unity Map in order to meet the requirements of the Voting Rights Act and keep communities of interest together,” said Margaret Fung, Executive Director of AALDEF. “This will ensure that Asian Americans, Blacks, and Latinos have fair representation in the New York City Council and can elect candidates of their choice.”
Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial minority group in New York City, which has the largest Asian American population of any municipality in the nation. Over the past decade, the Asian American population increased 32% to almost 13% of the city’s population, numbering over one million. The Asian American population has grown over 300 times faster than the overall population growth in Queens, over 25 times faster than Brooklyn’s growth, and over 7 times faster than Manhattan’s growth.
The Unity Map unites the communities of interest in Chinatown and most of the Lower East Side into proposed district CD 1 37.1% Asian American Voting Age Population (VAP) while removing the distinct neighborhoods of Tribeca and Battery Park City. The two most divided Asian American neighborhoods in NYC, Richmond Hill/South Ozone Park and Bensonhurst (currently divided among 4 districts each), have been substantially improved so that they are mostly united within one district each, proposed CD32 for Richmond Hill 20.8% Asian American VAP and proposed CD47 for Bensonhurst 33.9% Asian American VAP.
Latinos are New York City’s largest minority group, constituting 29% of the City’s 8.1 million residents. Under the Unity Map, there will be 11 Latino majority NYC Council districts rather than the current 10. Manhattan will gain one more Latino majority seat. Fourteen districts will have Latino populations over 40%, one more than the present number.
“The Unity Map is the product of listening and working with our communities to ensure fairness in the redistricting process,” said Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “We must ensure that the Latino community has the opportunity to elect members who will pay attention to their needs and concerns. This is a fair map.”
“While the Latino community has grown in very exciting ways throughout NYC, the maps we drew reflect the realities of drawing beyond the numbers,” said Lucia Gomez-Jimenez, Executive Director of La Fuente and NILP Redistricting Advisor. “Different perspectives and expertise once again demonstrated a commitment to true community empowerment. We stand by the Unity Coalition plan, and look forward to seeing the role it plays in providing guidance to the Commission’s vision for our communities.”
According to the 2010 Census, one out of every four New Yorkers is Black. With the large numbers of Caribbean, South American, and Continental Africans immigrating to New York City, the residential patterns have changed. Black New Yorkers currently elect 9 City Council members. Under the Unity Map, 11 effective districts are drawn from Black communities of interest. The new majority districts cover Jamaica, Queens and Canarsie, Brooklyn.
“The Center for Law and Social Justice joins with LatinoJustice, NILP, and AALDEF in demonstrating to the NYC Districting Commission that it is possible to both redraw all 51 Council seats with equal population and simultaneously protect the voting rights of Black, Asian American, and Latino New Yorkers,” said Esmeralda Simmons, Esq., Executive Director of the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College, CUNY. “After the ‘One Person-One Vote’ requirement of the Constitution, adherence to the Voting Rights Act is the next highest priority for NYC Council redistricting plans. The Unity Map shows New York City the most effective means to accomplish these highest priorities.”
PRESS CONFERENCE INFORMATION
Event: Press Conference by AALDEF, Latino Justice, and CLSJ Announcing the Unity Map for NYC Council Redistricting
Date and Time: 11 AM, Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Location: Steps of City Hall, Manhattan
Jerry Vattamala — Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Juan Cartagena – LatinoJustice PRLDEF
Frank Lewis and Zulema Blair – Center for Law and Social Justice
Lucia Gomez — National Institute for Latino Policy and La Fuente
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