“I would like to welcome you to the political awakening of Koreatown.
We are not going to be the quiet group anymore that just hands out money without representation!”
-Lloyd Lee, Koreatown Supporter (quoted in the L.A. Weekly, Feb. 9, 2012)
2012 marks the start of a new chapter for the Korean American community: its political awakening and empowerment. Every ten years the City engages in “redistricting” – a complex process that redraws city council districts – and with it, political power. To date, Koreatown – one of the economic jewels of the City – has been divided into four districts. With no single elected representative championing its interests, the area is sorely lacking in urban development such as parks, senior centers or community areas.
Between January through April of 2012, hundreds of Koreatown supporters have spoken strongly at multiple City public hearings on this matter. Their efforts have been recognized by the media, turning Koreatown into one of the most important redistricting issues of this decade. However, all indications are that the City will likely keep Koreatown divided and powerless for another ten years.
But Koreatown’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. The media describes this struggle as “the political awakening” of the Korean American community, and this newly empowered community will not let Koreatown remain divided for another ten years without challenge. The community enlisted the aid of law firms Bird Marella and Akin Gump to initiate a lawsuit invoking the Voting Rights Act, the Constitutional Equal Protection Clause, and the L.A. City Charter.
These firms are donating the huge expense of attorney time to benefit the community. In addition, KABA and other community organizations are collecting money, through a legal defense fund, to cover non-attorney costs such as expert witness fees. A formidable litigation fund is a crucial element in this effort to unify and empower Koreatown.
Contributors may visit www.kabasocal.org and make an online contribution. If you are interested in helping in other ways, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Be a part of the political awakening of Koreatown.