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Assemblyman Protests Proposed Congressional Lines

Says They Ignore Interests of African-American Community

The following was originally written as an open letter to Hon. Roanne Mann, U.S. magistrate judge, Brooklyn Federal Court

By Hakeem Jeffries

I write to strongly object to the proposed congressional lines recently presented by the court.

Historically, the traditionally African-American neighborhoods of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill have been linked together as one “community of interest” within the 10th Congressional District. They are served by the same community board, the same police precinct, the same school district, the same bus and subway lines, the same firehouses, and the same central commercial corridors on Fulton Street and Myrtle Avenue.

This “community of interest” is closely connected to the predominantly African-American community of Bedford-Stuyvesant that is immediately adjacent to the east. These three neighborhoods are all linked by the same commercial corridor along Fulton Street and the same mass transportation along the A, C and G lines. School District 13 also includes the neighborhoods of Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights and parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant.

As “communities of interests” these three neighborhoods have benefited from existing within the same congressional district for approximately three decades and should remain together. Consistent with the legal objective of preserving “communities of interests” and continuity of representation, it is unclear why the proposed congressional map for the new NY-8 jettisons Fort Greene and Clinton Hill (as well as parts of Prospect Heights) and replaces them with neighborhoods in the far reaches of Brooklyn and Queens, including Gerritsen Beach, Gravesend, Georgetown, Ozone Park Woodhaven and Howard Beach. This mismatched marriage does not appear to serve the best interests of any of the residents involved.

According to these proposed lines, only one congressional district now resides entirely within Kings County, notwithstanding the fact that at 2.5 million residents Brooklyn is the largest county in New York State. Indeed, we can accommodate three entire congressional districts wholly within the borders of the county. In this context, there is no plausible reason why the new NY-8 reaches into Queens to pick up three additional neighborhoods that have nothing in common demographically with the communities that have traditionally made up the 10th Congressional District.

It is also deeply troubling that the map for the proposed new NY-8 fails to take into consideration the express concerns presented to the court by a coalition of prominent clergy members, civic leaders, community activists and service providers from Fort Greene and Clinton Hill. (See attached Exhibit A). These concerns further amplify the need to keep the Fort Greene and Clinton Hill neighborhoods as part of the new NY-8, particularly when the alternative is replacement by newer communities such as Gerritsen Beach, Gravesend, Georgetown, Ozone Park Woodhaven and Howard Beach.

For the reasons set forth above, I strongly urge the court to modify its proposed plan and preserve the communities of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill (as well as parts of Prospect Heights) within the new NY-8. Thank you for your consideration.

March 9, 2012 - 10:33am


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