November 4, 2011

DURHAM – Earlier this week, after spending 60 days looking at a cleverly designed scheme to resegregate voters in North Carolina, the U.S. Department of Justice informed us that the U.S. Attorney General did not “interpose any objection” to the scheme.  The next sentence in the letter said, “However, we note that Section 5 expressly provides that the failure of the Attorney General to object [to a redistricting scheme] does not bar subsequent litigation (our emphasis) to enjoin the enforcement of the changes.”

That is what we did this morning at Wake Superior Court in Raleigh, NC.  We are honored to be co-plaintiffs with the League of Women Voters, the A. Philip Randolph Institute, and Democracy, NC — organizations that have had their hands on the Plow of Democracy for a long time — as we file a lawsuit asking our North Carolina courts to stop this cleverly disguised race-based scheme. 

We are suing the leaders of the NC House and Senate, Thom Tillis and Phil Berger.  They paid good taxpayer money to outside consultants to develop a scheme to resegregate minority voters and dilute our voting power. We also name the State of North Carolina and the State Board of Elections as defendants in our lawsuit, since they are charged with carrying out this race-based plan.

Immediately upon hearing the news that the U.S. Department of Justice precleared the maps, the NC Republican leadership gleefully claimed victory, pointing to the Justice Department’s decision as the final mark of approval for their maps. But we must ask ourselves, what is the basis of their celebration?

They celebrate because they believe their political future is based in the political disenfranchisement of African Americans. They are using racial motivation for political aspiration. They are willing to resegregate, suppress, dilute, diminish, and split the power of African American vote in order to accomplish their narrow-minded political agenda. We need to bring the bright light of truth on this agenda plotted with national right wing consultants who sophisticatedly map where they can target their discrimination block by block.

We have already been asked the question: “If the Department of Justice approved this plan, then why are you suing?   The answer is simple.  These are not Jim Crow Maps.  They do not feature night-riders in sheets, terrorizing black voters with physical threats, overt racial messaging, poll taxes or other disenfranchisement tricks. 

This is James Crow, Esq.!  Jim Crow prevented African Americans from participating at all. James Crow, Esq., says we can’t stop participation, that’s illegal now.  But they can nullify the minority vote by creating racially motivated districts that stack, pack and bleach out African American voters.

These consultants know that blatant Jim Crow acts are illegal, so they came up with their James Crow, Esq., schemes instead. Jim Crow used blunt tools. James Crow, Esq., uses surgical tools to cut out the heart of black political power. James Crow, Esq., uses high-tech, clever consultants to pick apart black communities block by block and increase the prosperity of a few Americans by trying to divide, segregate, and fool the rest of us.

These maps were developed in a manner that uses purported compliance with the Voting Rights Act as an excuse for obtaining unfair political advantage. The race-based maps pack 48% of the African American voters into just 3 U.S. House Districts. They pack 52% of the African American voters into just 27 of the 120 State House Districts. And they pack 47% of the African American voters into just 10 State Senate Districts. An African-American adult has a 50 percent greater risk of living in a precinct split up by the plans than does a white adult.

These are James Crow Maps.  Their purpose is simple:  To disempower the minority vote by resegregating minority voters so as to promote the right wing’s dwindling electoral viability.  Divide and conquer.

Article 1 of the North Carolina State Constitution guarantees that no person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws; nor shall any person be subjected to discrimination by the State because of race, color, religion, or national origin. Article 2 states no county should be divided when determining House and Senate districts.

During Reconstruction, black and white leaders, working together, developed our constitution and adopted laws to ensure future citizens of our state were protected from just the type of actions our current General Assembly is trying to force upon this state.

The proper term is Resegregate. They want to resegregate our neighborhoods. Resegregate our communities.  Resegregate our voting districts.  The James Crow Maps jam the Black voters into packed Black districts keeping Black and Brown voters from working in alliances with White voters to elect officials who can help repair the breach in God’s Human Family, and begin the hard work of creating jobs in a new, green economy.

The James Crow Maps want to take us backwards.  The Crown Jewel of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960′s, the Voting Rights Act, is effective as a deterrent to blunt instruments of maintaining Jim Crow voting patterns.  But when it comes to sophisticated schemes, which we call James Crow, Esq., we need a more surgical approach.

We need to examine these new schemes in the crucible of cross-examination in the light of open courtrooms.  So a Judge can determine the credibility of the witnesses, testifying under oath.  Armed with the rules of the North Carolina Constitution and our Equal Protection clause we will not allow North Carolina to be resegregated.  We will Never Go Back. 



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