Back in June , they sent this memo ““Stop the Packing and Cracking in Boston”
From: The Redistricting Coalition of Color: Chinese Progressive Association, MassVOTE, NAACP, Oiste? and Project Hip-‐Hop
Chairmen and Members of the Redistricting Committee:
There is no greater right in a democracy than the right to fair and equal representation. We submit this opinion on behalf of a redistricting coalition involving organizations and leaders from Boston’s communities of color, including the 100 year-‐old NAACP, Oiste?, MassVOTE, the Chinese Progressive Association and others. The city council is currently developing and debating map proposals for the 9 city council districts. According to the 2010 census, the population of Boston is 617,598 and therefore the nine city council districts must have 68,622 people with adeviation of no more than 5%. While the numbers are simple, where the lines are drawn is wrought with history, shame, neighborhood interests and politics.
The coalition of color advises that our councilors use this redistricting opportunity to avoid the mistakes of Massachusetts’ and Boston’s checkered past. In 1812, Governor Elbridge Gerry signed a bill redistricting the Commonwealth into districts that favored the Republican Party over the Federalists. As history tells, one of the odd-‐shaped districts resembled a salamander and hence the term “Gerrymander” was born. Between 1866 and 1898, twenty-‐four Blacks were elected to political office in Boston. However, Black voting districts were gerrymandered in 1898 in Boston to make the election of a Black representative impossible. The most egregious acts of gerrymandering are the “cracking” of communities of interest, which essentially divides them in order to deny them a sufficiently large voting bloc in any particular district, and the “packing” of minorities into one or two single dense districts that limits their legitimate influence on neighboring districts. The common and destructive techniques of cracking and packing not only protect those already in power but make it nearly impossible for underserved, ignored, and disenfranchised communities to have an influential voice or any collective political power.