Some members of AAPI community in Queens say NYC Council map silences their voices

Crystal Cranmore Image
Wednesday, May 1, 2024
Members of AAPI community say NYC Council map silences their voices
Crystal Cranmore has the story in Queens on concerns about the NYC council map.

QUEENS (WABC) -- May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Eyewitness News is taking a closer look at a community in Queens that is fighting for more representation in the New York City Council.

Members of the Asian community in Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park are taking legal action against the city's new redistricting map, saying it silences their voices.

Both communities are vibrant enclaves of South Asian and Indo Caribbean culture, but activists say the their voices have been silenced too long.

"The Asian American community there, unfortunately, at every single level has been disenfranchised, and their vote has been diluted their voting strength," saID Jerry G. Vattamala from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund represents a group of people challenging the new City Council map in court this week, after losing its case at the trial court level last year.

The New York City Districting Commission redrew the map in 2022 as it has historically done every 10 years to account for population shifts.

"What's been the status quo, three Black districts, a white conservative district, screw the Asian population, right. Let them be divided to three, four, whatever districts, so they have no voice. That's what's been happening," Vattamala said.

Activists say the map is in violation of the New York City charter.

A proposed map keeps Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park mostly whole in one district. But for Jagpreet Singh, who has ties to Richmond Hill, the issue is personal.

"When we get big issues like the pandemic that had happened. The type of resources that were available to other districts other parts of Queens, it wasn't the same in Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park," Singh said. "We didn't get a food pantry until months after the pandemic."

A spokesperson for the city's law department said in a statement, "The redistricting plan was thoroughly planned and adopted. We firmly believe the trial court ruling should be upheld."

Oral arguments are expected to take place Thursday.


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