Koreatown Residents Take Redistricting Battle to the Courtroom
Author: Chelsea Hawkins
Posted: August 1st, 2012
Filed Under: BLOG
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Photo of council member Herb Wesson, representative of Koreatown. Photo via the Los Angeles Times

After the highly controversial redistricting battle that left Koreatown split into two different districts, residents of Koreatown are filing a suit against the city for allegedly discriminating against Asian Americans in favor of African Americans.

Lawyers for the Koreatown activists are now asking the city to prevent the new district lines from being used in next year’s city election, and for a federally appointed official to redraw them.

In the beginning of this year, the activists urged the Los Angeles City Council to consolidate the area into a single district under Eric Garcetti, representative of Thai Town and Historic Filipinotown. Koreatown is currently represented by Herb Wesson.

The issue became one of race, representation and political clout.

Wesson has said he intentionally worked to insure that “a minimum of two of the council people will be black for the next 30 years,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“The most important asset that we have as people is to make sure we have a black vote or two on that council,” Wesson said in the taped remarks. “And that was my priority.”

And this is the nexus for the lawsuit being filed against the city: Wesson, plaintiffs claim, has purposefully manipulated the city redistricting in order to benefit black voters while disenfranchising Asian American voters.

“The city has diluted and negatively impacted the voting power of Koreatown residents by unnecessarily, unlawfully and unconstitutionally dividing their community into two separate districts,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit points out that Koreatown has time and again been left without an effective voice in city governance despite being one of the largest ethnic groups in the area.

City lawyers have made no statement concerning the lawsuit.

Read the court-filed complaint in its entirety here.

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