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December 15, 2022

The map divides neighborhoods along racial lines and packs Black and Hispanic voters into particular districts.

Miami, FL Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida and Dechert LLP filed a lawsuit on behalf of Grove Rights and Community Equity (GRACE), Engage Miami, the South Dade and Miami-Dade NAACP Branches, and four individual city residents challenging the Miami City Commission’s newly drawn redistricting map.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Miami, alleges that the Commission’s overriding goal in drawing its map was to separate racial groups into different districts as much as possible, far beyond what the Voting Rights Act requires. The packing of Black voters into District 5, and of Hispanic voters into Districts 1, 3, and 4, is unconstitutional and diminishes those voters’ influence in adjacent districts. This racial gerrymandering does not advance representation and cannot be justified by compliance with the Voting Rights Act or another compelling interest. 

“Simply put, this map violates Miamians’ rights to equal protection under the law enshrined in the Fourteenth Amendment,” said Nicholas Warren, staff attorney with the ACLU of Florida. “Commissioners have abused their power to draw unfair maps that treat Black and Hispanic voters as pawns in a power game rather than constituents to be served. This lawsuit is a chance to right this wrong and enact meaningful representation for all Miami.”

The district lines divide neighborhoods and slice communities to accomplish the Commission’s racial gerrymandering. Coconut Grove, Little Havana, Allapattah, Shenandoah, Silver Bluff, Flagami, Omni/Downtown, Overtown, and Brickell are some of the neighborhoods split for this purpose.

Upon filing, plaintiffs said:

“Miami residents showed up and spoke out against gerrymandered maps, but our elected officials refused to listen,” said Yanelis Valdes, Engage Miami’s Director of Advocacy & Organizing and an individual plaintiff in the case. “Now, we are going to court because Miami deserves better than this racially gerrymandered map that slices through communities and denies representation.”

“A Commission that views neighbors as ‘sirloin’ and ‘bone’ to be carved up along racial lines cannot be entrusted with the map drawing pen,” said Dwight Bullard, President of the South Dade NAACP. “We won’t stop fighting until this gerrymander gets thrown out and replaced with a fair map that treats us like constituents, not cuts of meat.”

“The City Commission packed Black voters into a single district, diminishing Black voices in surrounding districts and ignoring communities elsewhere in the city,” said Daniella Pierre, President of the Miami-Dade Branch of the NAACP. “That tactic doesn’t further Black representation—it diminishes it. We are suing because it’s illegal and wrong.”

The challenged map can be viewed on Google Maps here.

The complaint in GRACE v. City of Miami can be found below.