Protestors outside Governor’s Mansion demand vetoes of district maps
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Lawmakers may have wrapped up the special session but protestors and several lawmakers on Wednesday, Feb. 23, say the fight is far from over.
They continue to press Gov. John Bel Edwards to veto the maps. Chants were heard all around the Capital grounds as protestors gathered outside the Governor’s Mansion, saying there’s no turning back.
“Because when we fight, we win and we not taking no for an answer,” said Xavier Kent, President of the NAACP Youth & College Division. “We need these maps vetoed.”
Those who showed up said the new elective maps for the state that made it to the governor’s desk suppress the African American population by not adding additional majority-Black districts, a population that saw growth over the last 10 years and now represents 33% of the state. But many of them believe, due to complications from COVID, that percentage is higher.
“Clearly, it’s not an accurate representation because the system was cut off a whole month ahead of time,” added Michael McClanahan, president of the state’s NAACP chapter. “The map was cut off ahead of time and then we dealt with the pandemic.”
The NAACP and other activist groups said they already have lawsuits lined up if Gov. Edwards does not veto the maps. If he did, there would either be another special session, attempts to redraw the maps during the regular session, or worst-case scenario put the state right back in yet another veto-override session. But should the governor leave the maps alone and give his stamp of approval, the lawsuits could end up in the Louisiana Supreme Court.
“Those maps that they pushed like the SB1 and the HB14, basically go against the Voting Rights Act,” said Kuterah Butler-Reed with Black Voters Matter.
But Republicans said their maps are good to go and believe, if it came down to it, they would hold up in a court of law.
“I’m not representing the Republican Party; I’m representing the legislature,” said Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell. “And it’s my job to pass bills and to develop bills that will stand up in a court of law and we’re confident that we’re doing that.”
On the last day of the special session, Gov. Edwards said he was concerned about some of the maps that made it to his desk but is yet to make an official decision.
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