Protesters demand new maps that preserve majority-Black districts in Michigan

Oct 20, 2021 at 3:05 pm
click to enlarge State Sen. Adam Hollier speaks during a rally in Detroit for new district maps. - Steve Neavling
Steve Neavling
State Sen. Adam Hollier speaks during a rally in Detroit for new district maps.

Dozens of protesters rallied in downtown Detroit to call for new redistricting maps on Wednesday, saying the proposed new ones would significantly reduce, if not eliminate, Black state lawmakers.

Chanting “majority minority maps now” and holding signs that read “Fair maps now,” protesters gathered a half hour before the Michigan Independent Citizens District Commission began its first hearing to gather pubic input on the maps.

“Now is not the time to diminish Black voters’ voices,” Jonathan Kinloch, chair of the 13th Congressional District, said. “You have a commission who has been charged with redrawing these districts and is supposed to be drawing them to empower citizens’ voices. What we have seen up to this point are maps that silence Black voices. It erodes the progress we have made. If these maps are approved, they will be the worst-drawn maps that we have seen in several generations.”

Black leaders and residents began urging the commission on Wednesday to redraw the maps because the proposed ones would eliminate all 17 majority-Black districts in the state House and Senate.

The commission, which includes four Democrats, four Republicans, and five independents, is tasked with redrawing the boundaries after Republicans created heavily gerrymandered districts following the 2010 census. The newly drawn maps, which are now considered more politically fair, break up Detroit districts and extend them into the predominately white suburbs.

“This is the only place in the state where a large municipality like the city of Detroit has been broken up into such small pieces,” State Sen. Adam Hollier, D-Detroit, said. “They haven’t done that anywhere else, and that’s not what they should be doing.”

In redrawing the districts, commissioners are required to comply with the federal Voting Rights Act, which requires equal opportunity for minority voters to elect representatives of their choice. Opponents of the new districts argue that Michigan voters tend to vote for people who look like them, so fewer Black lawmakers would be elected under the new boundaries that are all majority white.

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