Coalition of L.A. Pastors Calls on Mayor to Veto Redistricting Plan

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CITY NEWS SERVICE

A coalition of about a dozen black, Korean and Latino pastors called on Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Wednesday to veto a redistricting plan approved in March.

The plan approved by the City Council shifted a section of downtown out of Councilmember Jan Perry’s district to Councilmember Jose Huizar’s Eastside district. The plan also moved sections of predominantly black neighborhoods out of Councilmember Bernard Parks’ South Los Angeles district to Council President Herb Wesson’s Mid-City district.

Grace Yoo of Korean American Coalition

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.

The religious leaders, representing 4,300 churches across the city, said during a morning news conference that the redistricting plan would disenfranchise and marginalize the city’s poorest people.

The Rev. Juan Carlos Mendez, 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 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.

Grace Yoo, executive director of the Korean American Coalition, said 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.

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