Residents and Organizations Confront Legislative Redistricting Committee
According to Common Cause’s Deputy Director, “If it's voter ID, it's ALEC . . . . If it’s anti-immigration bills written hand-in-glove with private prison corporations, it's ALEC. If it's working with the N.R.A. on 'Shoot to Kill' laws, it's ALEC. When you start peeling back state efforts to opt out of the regional greenhouse gas initiative, it's ALEC." One might not understand the connection between the recent State of Texas Public Redistricting Hearing held in San Antonio and ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), until one notices that the former national chairman of ALEC is none other than State Representative Phil King. Phil King was the presiding chair of the meeting held at Port San Antonio—a location that was not helpful to residents coming from all over the city. King was the architect of the redistricting plan that would eventually be used as a framework for Republicans to increase their control of Congressional and state seats through effective racial intent. This is not the guy that should be the chair of this committee as his history shows he is more than biased.
Texas has a horrible record of trying to exclude people from voting. This is why hundreds of people attended the hearing with three bus loads filled with people from every part of town. The bus transportation was organized by the Neighborhoods First Alliance (NFA), a community based group that holds politicians accountable to the public. Other groups were represented including the League of Women Voters, State Representative Jose Menendez, MALDEF, MOVE Texas, Aubrey Lewis of the Denver Heights Neighborhood Association, East Side activist Gordon Benjamin, Maria Greene of the NAACP, Steve Huerta of the All of Us or None Texas Organization, the Cesar Chavez Organization, and many others. One resident gave the definition of “gerrymandering” and talked about the lack of trust that state officials have generated.
TC Calvert Sr., president of the NFA and the Bexar County Voting Rights Coalition, spoke about the concerns that people have as others across the country as to the great gerrymandering taking place in Texas. Calvert went on record as saying that the committee “should have the will power to take the ugly stain on the State of Texas for drawing maps.” In the words of TC Calvert Sr., we need to demand that all candidates "have the Willpower to deal with voter suppression," and, "change direction of how the United States looks at the state of Texas when it comes to violation of the Voting Rights Act. Do you have the Willpower?"
San Antonio had the largest turn out of residents when compared to other
governmental public hearings. Residents demanded that the process be fair and transparent and not be done behind closed doors. A federal court in San Antonio found that the state had intentionally discriminated against the Hispanic community when it drew districts. Residents and organizations wanted the ability to look at the map before it passes out of committee and to have a chance to review it and make suggestions. They also wanted the legislators who draw the maps to explain why they chose to draw them in the ways they chose, and to not hide dealings behind closed doors. Texas has a terrible record of drawing racist conservative maps. Residents spoke about the racialization of politics in this era with a president that constantly makes racist statements. History reveals that lower voter registration rates in communities of color is the direct result of policies of racist discrimination. Years of violence, segregation, poll taxes, and other voter suppression practices are still being used to suppress the vote in communities of color. A few extremist conservatives were present with their usual lies.
You may also view, The Fair Maps Texas website at www.FairMapsTexas.org.