Advocates: Newly drawn congressional, Senate districts hurt communities of color
A draft of newly drawn congressional and state Senate districts is coming under fire.
Civil rights advocates say the changes are take voting power away from communities of color.
The lines were recently reconfigured by an independent Special Master after the state's highest court ruled the previous map was unconstitutionally gerrymandered to favor Democrats.
The newly proposed congressional map would separate Westbury and New Cassel from other mostly Black and Latino areas like Hempstead, Roosevelt and Freeport.
Westbury is currently part of Congressional District 4. Under the newly released draft map, Westbury and neighboring New Cassel would move to District 3, separating them from other communities of color like Hempstead, Roosevelt and Freeport.
Sheila Wilson-Wells is vice president of the NAACP in Lakeview, a historically Black hamlet that could be split into two state Senate districts right along its main thoroughfare. With two different representatives, the community might have trouble securing funds for roads, libraries and parks.
"The two proposed Senate districts they're placing us in are non-minority communities, which means our vote will be diluted and our voice will be silenced and suppressed," says Wilson-Wells.
"By fractionalizing the community there's a fracturing that's going on," says Frederick Brewington, a civil rights attorney. "When that fracture takes place it's not actually fair that this community be separated from communities of like and communities with similar circumstances."
Brewington sent a letter to the Special Master and the judge overseeing the new maps, asking them to go back to the drawing board.
A decision on the maps could come as early as Friday.