Detroit Evening Report: Federal trial will challenge metro Detroit legislative districts

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Members of the public voice concerns during a Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission's public hearing at TCF Center in Detroit, Oct. 20, 2021.

Members of the public voice concerns during a Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission's public hearing at TCF Center in Detroit, Oct. 20, 2021.

A group of Detroit voters and former legislators are suing Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and members of the Michigan Independent Citizen Redistricting Commission in federal court, arguing that the group’s redistricting strategies violated the civil rights of Black voters and legislators. 

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The trial will scrutinize nine metro Detroit legislative districts drawn by the independent redistricting commission, with the plaintiffs claiming that the new districts weaken the power of Black voters and make it much less likely that Black candidates will be elected. Former Michigan Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo says it was clear before the 2022 elections that the newly drawn districts would lead to fewer Black lawmakers, adding that Democrats have been silent on the issue.

“It’s really simple: will white liberals stand up for Black voters like Black voters have stood up for them time and time again? I think the time is now for them to stand up and say that Black leadership matters,” she said.

The case is set to go before a U.S. Sixth Circuit Court three-judge panel on Nov. 1.

Other headlines for Oct. 4, 2023:

  • The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services launched a new four-year plan focused on improving birthing rates for Michigan families and communities. The department also launched a Maternal Mortality Surveillance program with a new website to help families prevent pregnancy-related deaths.
  • Inkster Mayor Patrick Wimberly was indicted in federal court on Tuesday for allegedly accepting multiple bribes from Sept. 2022 through this past April. Prosecutors say the bribes began at $5,000 monthly until Wimberly demanded more and they rose to $10,000 monthly. Wimberly also allegedly demanded $50,000 in bribes to facilitate the sale of a city property to an outside party. Wimberly was elected in 2019 and is seeking reelection in the Nov. 8 general election. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
  • The Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation is committing $5 million to The Henry Ford’s Jackson House project — the Selma, Ala. home of Dr. and Mrs. Sullivan Jackson which served as a safe haven where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others worked during the marches from Selma-to-Montgomery back in 1965. The Henry Ford acquired the home this year and is moving the structure this fall to Michigan where it will be permanently placed in Greenfield Village in 2026.
  • The City of Detroit will soon be offering photo ID Cards for residents. The Detroit Municipal ID will provide access to Detroit services, regardless of immigration status, age, housing status or gender identity. They could also be used to open a checking and savings account at One Detroit Credit Union, allow entry to city buildings and/or establish a utility account with providers such as DTE Energy and the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. This ID does not replace a Michigan state-issued ID or a driver’s license, and cannot be used for driving or traveling.

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  • Tia Graham
    Tia Graham is a reporter and Weekend Edition Host for 101.9 WDET. She graduated from Michigan State University where she had the unique privilege of covering former President Barack Obama and his trip to Lansing in 2014.