JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Through a preliminary injunction, a court blocked Jacksonville city council and school board maps that pack together Black communities to deny them a fair voice in government. The preliminary injunction motion was brought as part of ongoing litigation, Jacksonville Branch of the NAACP vs. City of Jacksonville, which challenges Jacksonville’s City Council and School Board maps as racial gerrymanders under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Jacksonville Branch of the NAACP vs. City of Jacksonville was filed on behalf of local organizations including the Jacksonville NAACP Branch, the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, the Northeast Chapter of the ACLU of Florida, Florida Rising and 10 individual residents. The case will proceed to a full trial, but in the meantime, a court has ordered the Jacksonville City Council to draw and implement newer, fairer maps. These new maps must be in place before the scheduled City Council elections in 2023.
A copy of the ruling can be found HERE
“We are happy the court sided with the plaintiffs today and ordered the City Council to draw new maps that provide Black communities in Jacksonville a fair voice in city government,” said Matletha Bennette, senior staff attorney for voting rights with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). “We hope fairer maps will grant Black communities in Jacksonville, equal access to city council, equal access to city services and investment and equal attention from their local government.”
“Today is a huge win for Black Jacksonville residents who have been fighting for equal justice at the ballot box,” said Nick Warren, attorney of the ACLU of Florida. “These maps were unconstitutional and would have silenced and diminished Black voters influential power in the Jacksonville community. Everyone has the right to exercise their political power and we are glad the court had decided to call for fairer maps.”
“With new maps that accurately represent Jacksonville and provide a fairer voice to Black communities, residents across the city can have hope for positive changes and equal opportunity to bring their needs to the City Council,” said Isaiah Rumlin, president of the Jacksonville Branch of the NAACP. “We appreciate the court affirming our right to fair representation by blocking the racially gerrymandered maps, and we look forward to continuing to advocate for Jacksonville communities.”
“The court’s decision to block maps that pack Black communities into too few districts represents positive change for Jacksonville,” said Ben Frazier, president of the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville “We now hope for maps that give us fair representation and an equal voice to advocate for the prosperity of our communities.”
“We are proud of our friends and neighbors who stood up to advocate for their voting rights and achieved this win for fair representation in Jacksonville,” said ACLU of Florida Northeast board member BeJae Shelton. “They have made a positive difference for Jacksonville communities, who will now have an equal voice in their city government.”
“We are glad the court blocked city maps that failed to represent Jacksonville communities and diminished the voices of Black voters,” said Moné Holder, Senior Director of Advocacy & Programs of Florida Rising. “We deserve maps that give an equal voice to all Jacksonville residents so every community can receive the attention and investment that it needs.”
“It is vital for that we fight for fair representation at every level of government, and that is why we are glad to see the court block discriminatory maps and order fairer maps for the 2023 and 2024 elections, “said Rosemary McCoy, Jacksonville resident. “Maps that give Black communities an equal voice will be vital for securing equal investment, equal funding and equal attention for our communities from our city government.”
In March 2022, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry signed into law new City Council and School Board maps, redrawing the voting districts for the next decade. The City Council drew district lines that intentionally packed Black residents into Council Districts 7, 8, 9 and 10. The map also ensures that adjacent Districts 2, 12 and 14 have artificially large white populations.
The new gerrymandered City Council map packs Black voters into only four supermajority Black districts out of the total 14 single-member districts in the city. This unnecessarily segregates the community of Jacksonville along racial lines.
In response, the ACLU of Florida, Harvard Election Law Clinic and the SPLC filed a case — Jacksonville Branch of the NAACP vs. City of Jacksonville — on May 3, 2022, on behalf of local activists and voting rights organizations to challenge the City Council map. The litigation also challenges the racial gerrymandering of Duval County School Board Districts 4, 5 and 6, which are based on the City Council Districts.
On July 22, the plaintiffs filed a preliminary injunction motion to halt the use of the maps ahead of the 2023 elections. Today the court granted that preliminary injunction. The case will proceed to a full trial to determine the legality of the maps, but the City Council will be required to draw and implement new maps that provide fair representation to the Black community in Jacksonville.
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