Rev. Al Sharpton took a break today from assailing GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich for “race baiting” to assail the New York Senate Republicans — and to call on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to veto the state Legislature’s draft redistricting maps.
Sharpton argued that the new lines, which drawn by the Assembly Democrats and Senate Republicans, benefit incumbents while pitting minorities groups against each other.
“We were promised that there would be reform in the process of how they re-drew the lines,” Sharpton said. “What we’re seeing is deform rather than reform, by people going again in a back room, cutting up the map based on self-interest rather than publicly dealing with the matter based on the democratic process.”
In particular, Sharpton and other advocates at the rally criticized the proposed lines upstate, in places like Buffalo and Rochester, which they said would unfairly divide up black communities. GOP State Sen. Mark Gristanti’s Buffalo-area district, for instance, lost 30 percent of its black population, but gained 33 percent more white population.
Sharpton charged that the all the “tradin’ back and forward is treating us like dogs after crumbs, rather than respecting us as voters in the state.”
Make the Road New York, the Latino rights group, criticized the redrawing of lines in Long Island, where many had hoped for a Latino-based district. And Esmeralda Simmons, the executive director of the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College, said that “ridiculous-looking” lines downstate in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Bronx, Queens would split up minority communities.
She singled out the proposed 20th Senate district, currently held by State Sen. Eric Adams, for criticism. She said the district takes a very compact area including Crown Heights and Flatbush that is mostly Caribbean and African American and dilutes it.
“It takes a tail, like a two-block-wide tail and goes across the borough to the west side, and picks up a tiny square of Borough Park, a conservative Jewish community, (that) has no contact with this other community,” Simmons said. “There’s not a bus or subway that connects that areas, and putting that in the 20th dilutes the black voting power of that area.”
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