Tensions rise over Hattiesburg initial redistricting plan - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Tensions rise over Hattiesburg initial redistricting plan

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) -

The NAACP, church leaders and residents of the community accused the Hattiesburg City Council of revenge and racism on the steps of city hall Monday, over the council's vote that failed to reappoint two black school board members.

However, it didn't end there. The group took their accusations into the council's work session, where complaints of racism turned from the school board to redistricting lines. One of those complaints coming from councilwoman Deborah Delgado. Delgado opposes the proposed redistricting plan.

"I was disappointed, because the redistricting consultant really just brought us a document that maintained the status quo," said Delgado.

This initial draft would increase the number of African Americans in ward 5, an already majority minority ward.

"My ward just dropped down a fraction of a percentage in terms of the number of African Americans, and the other wards saw no significant changes," said Delgado.

Despite the fact that, Delgado says, the recent census showed the African American population in the city grew to 53 percent.

"Our redistricting plan needs to reflect that, we need to make sure that we ad hear to the principle of one man one vote," said Delgado.

Delgado believes the draft dilutes the strength of the African American vote on the city council, by keeping the majority and minority the same.

"It maintains the status quo, but they know the lines have to be changed because our population numbers have changed, but in terms of the make up of them, it serves them to have them remain as they are," said Delgado.

Hattiesburg City Council President Kim Bradley says race has nothing to do with the proposed lines. He says the map just shows equal wards.

"The same number approximately 9,091 people in each ward that is all that plan did,"said Bradley.

Bradley says this isn't the first time the allegation of "packing blacks" came up, around 2004 a lawsuit was filed.

"It went all the way up to the appellate court in New Orleans, and everything was fine," said Bradley.

Copyright 2012 WDAM. All rights reserved.

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