ATLANTA (CN) - Georgia is illegally carving out and incorporating white enclaves from minority-majority counties, empowering rich white folks and disempowering poor minorities, Georgia's Legislative Black Caucus and the Rev. Joseph Lowery claim in Federal Court.
Seven voters from Fulton and DeKalb Counties joined the Black Caucus and Lowery in suing Gov. Nathan Deal.
Lowery, 91, a veteran leader of the civil rights struggle, claims that Georgia has been creating predominantly white municipalities inside majority black counties, diluting the voting power and political influence of lower-income minorities.
"During the course of the last thirty years, minorities, specifically blacks, have become the dominant racial group in Fulton County and DeKalb County," the complaint states. "These individuals have also demonstrated a cohesive political identity, as evidenced by their similar voting patterns and support for black candidates in elections. The immediate consequence of this new status as a salient population majority is that said minorities have assumed marginal control of the institutions of political power at the county level in both Fulton and DeKalb County."
Fulton and DeKalb Counties make up a great deal of Metropolitan Atlanta. Fulton County is 40.9 percent white and 44.5 percent black, and DeKalb is 54.4 percent black and 30.1 percent white, the complaint states, citing the 2010 Census.
"However," the plaintiffs say, "starting in 2005, and presumably to thwart this trend and to blunt the emergent political power of blacks in these counties, the defendant passed laws to establish racial enclaves within Fulton County and DeKalb County that were predominantly white, unlike the political subdivisions from which they were carved. These municipal voting districts ('MVDs') supplanted the fully functional and racially balanced county government that, for over 150 years, had provided all local government services for the citizens of Fulton County and DeKalb County."
The plaintiffs claim the newly created cities of Sandy Springs, Milton, Johns Creek, Chattahoochee Hills, Dunwoody and Brookhaven, have a much larger percentage of white residents and higher household income than the two originating counties.
Brookhaven, the newest in a string of new, predominantly-white municipalities, is 47.7 percent white and 10.9 percent black, and has an all-white interim leadership council, according to the complaint.
"Each of the newly created MVDs shares another distinguishing characteristic from the counties from which they were carved," the complaint states. "Each MVD, in addition to being racially skewed, also possesses a significantly higher median household income and home value than that of the originating county.
"Moreover, upon information and belief, these MVDs were created outside of the normal legislative process for the illicit purpose of carving a white majority jurisdiction from a black controlled political unit."
According to city-data.com, the new city of Sandy Springs, pop. 94,000, is 59 percent white and 19 percent black, and its median household income of $73,290 is 145 percent of the state median of $47,590.
The new city of Dunwoody, pop. 46,000, is 64 percent white and 12 percent black, and its median household income of $84,194 is 177 percent of the state average, according to city-data.
The other cities named in the complaint are too new to have a presence on city-data, a comprehensive list of thousands of U.S. cities.
The plaintiffs claim the state repealed laws requiring cities to provide at least three municipal services directly, and that required at least 3 miles between any new city and any existing city.
They say the bills creating the new enclaves were designated as state, not local, legislation, to avoid local opposition.
And they say the state is planning to create new cities and counties to further dilute minorities' voting power and political authority.
Only one black candidate has been elected to an executive position in all of the newly created districts, whereas in Fulton and DeKalb County, at least half of the county commissioners are black, according to the complaint.
"This effort by the defendant to create separate government for whites in the new MVDs, and the drastically different demographic breakdown of the MVDs compared to the original county demographics, is simply abhorrent under both federal and state law, and patently illegal under the 14th Amendment," the plaintiffs say.
They seek declaratory judgment that the city charters are illegal under state and federal law, want them rescinded, and want the state enjoined from issuing new ones.
They are represented by Jerome Lee with Hernan, Taylor & Lee.
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