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LA Pastors Say Redistricting Plan Would ‘Disenfranchise’ Poor Neighborhoods

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A coalition of pastors called on Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Wednesday to veto an approved redistricting plan.

The plan, approved by the City Council in March, shifted a section of Downtown Los Angeles out of Councilwoman Jan Perry’s district to Councilman Jose Huizar’s Eastside district. The plan also moved sections of predominately black neighborhoods out of Councilman Bernard Parks’ South Los Angeles district to Council President Herb Wesson’s Mid-City district.

The redistricting angered a coalition of Korean American groups, including the Wilshire Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council, the Korean American Bar Association and the Korean American Democratic Coalition. The coalition wanted Koreatown in the same district as Thai Town and Historic Filipinotown.

Religious leaders, representing 4,300 churches across the city, said that the redistricting plan would disenfranchise and marginalized the city’s poorest people.

Rev. Juan Carlos Mendez, the pastor of Centro Cristiano Bet-El in South Gate, likened the plan to quarantining lepers.

“I can see that the boundaries have pushed poor people into certain portions of the city like they do not deserve to be heard or seen,” Mendez said.

The pastors went to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s office to demand a meeting. Brenda Anderson, the mayor’s associate director of neighborhood and community services, told the group the mayor would meet with them before he signs off on the redistricting plan.

The law firm, Akin Gump Straus Hauer & Feld LLP, has agreed to sue the city pro bono, on behalf of the Korean American community, if the mayor approves the plan, according to Grace Yoo, executive director of the Korean American Coalition.

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