St. Louis Community Coalition Demands Fair and Open Redistricting Process Statement of Matt LeMieux, Executive Director, ACLU of Eastern Missouri

August 20, 2001 12:00 am

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ST. LOUIS–For the past three weeks, a group of concerned citizens and community organizations has been meeting to discuss the redistricting process for the St. Louis Board of Aldermen wards.

This diverse group, called together by the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri’s Race and Equality Committee, came to a consensus on two very important aspects concerning the process used to redraw wards in St. Louis.

First, the process was neither open nor fair, and second, certainly a fair and open process would result in wards being redrawn in a way that takes into consideration the demographics of the city.

We believe a fair and open process would have included several community meetings, especially in those wards that would be most affected by the proposed ward boundary changes.

A bill that deals with something as important as redistricting should not be treated as just another bill. The public deserves to have input in this process that goes above and beyond the process normally used for Board bills.

To this end, our coalition will be holding a forum on September 6 that will feature a staff member from the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. The aim of this forum will be to educate the public on how a fair and open redistricting process should work, and to show how a fair and open process would likely result in a map that better reflects the make up of our city.

Clearly, a fair and open process would not result in a map that decreases the number of African-American majority wards despite the fact that proportionally, the number of African-American residents in St. Louis has increased over the past 10 years.

This diverse coalition of community groups and citizens is devoted to ensuring that St. Louisans are not forced to live for the next 10 years with ward boundaries that do not fairly and equitably reflect the demographic realities of our city. We ask the Board of Aldermen and Mayor to recognize these realities and reopen the redistricting process.

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