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Activists plan redistricting appeal
Opponents: Remap promotes racial gerrymandering
 
Published Monday, July 22, 2013 10:34 pm
by Latisha Catchatoorian, The Triangle Tribune

RALEIGH – Opponents of North Carolina’s legislative redistricting are heading back to court.


N.C. NAACP President Rev. William J. Barber, Jo Nicholas of the League of Women Voters, representatives of Democracy N.C. and the A. Philip Randolph institute, and protestors stood on the steps of Wake County Courthouse on Monday to announce their appeal of a court decision to uphold what they consider racial gerrymandering.


Supporters of the appeal say that these districts place the same racial groups together and weaken the ability of blacks to build coalitions and imply that blacks cannot form friendships with white voters.


"I'm here today because I'm extremely concerned with just about every bill that is coming out of this current state legislature," said Evelyn Paul of New Bern.  "I can see the effect of the gerrymandering."


"The battle for voting rights is a battle we must fight and one we will win," Barber said.


Barber said this redistricting is a battle between regressive desires and progressive ones. He said controlling the ballot is a crime against democracy itself.
"Without full access to the ballot we subject ourselves to a second slavery," Barber said. "It is a legalized attempt at racial segregation.”


Barber stressed the appeal is not a partisan issue but a case for civil rights. He said everyone should be aware of who they are voting for, what district they are in and who their representatives are.


"This unconstitutionally segregated voters and led to voter confusion as to who would be on their ballot," Nicholas said.


Nicholas said hundreds of voters received the wrong ballots in November because the district boundaries drawn in 2011 are so confusing they didn't know which ballot to select.


"They've drawn these districts and it was very confusing," Paul said. "No one was informed. People did not know that the district they had lived in for many, many years - they were no longer in it."


Paul said she lives in a county that went from having two state districts to three and each representative covers at least three counties, with one representing four. Her state representative lives 70 miles from her in Goldsboro.


Anita Earls, executive director of the Southern Coalition for Southern Justice, said even the board of elections had difficulty deciphering the confusing district lines.


"With the people of North Carolina we will stand with them and fight to the end," she said.


"This is eerily reflective of not the 20th century, but the 19th century," Barber said.


Irv Joyner, the NAACP’s legal counsel, likened what is happening in North Carolina to the apartheid era in South Africa.


"We have the law on our side and the Lord on our side and with this we can't lose the appeal," he said.


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