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Hundreds pack L.A. Council chambers to protest redistricting maps

March 16, 2012 |  1:13 pm

Hundreds of people from South Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley and elsewhere showed up at City Hall on Friday to speak out on new maps drawn for 15 council districts, amid a circus-like atmosphere that included bagpipes for St. Patrick’s Day and an elaborate buffet for Persian New Year.

So many people showed up to discuss redistricting that they were directed to an overflow room. Others were forced to stand in the hallway, listening to the proceedings on an overhead speaker.

Grace Yoo, executive director of the Korean American Coalition, said she had stood in the hallway for two hours waiting to get in to testify. “There have been shenanigans left and right,” she said.

So far, the lion’s share of the testimony focused on the changes to council districts 8 and 9, which are represented by council members Bernard C. Parks and Jan Perry. Perry is slated to lose much of downtown while Parks would be forced to give up the USC area. Opponents of the map said both moves would economically wound much of South Los Angeles’ low-income neighborhoods.

“These redistricting maps will negatively impact the African American community socially, economically and politically,” said Patt Sanders, a retired city employee.

The plan drew praise from residents of Boyle Heights, who said they were delighted to see downtown moved into the Eastside district represented by Councilman Jose Huizar.

“To unite downtown with Boyle Heights will help Boyle Heights,” said Emmanuel Deleage, development director of the Casa 0101 Theatre on 1st Street.

Korean American activists were less impressed, saying the map dilutes their voting clout. “We will be filing a lawsuit very soon and we look forward to the fight,” said attorney Alex Cha.