Lawsuit wants all DeKalb voters to participate in Brookhaven election

by: Aaron Diamant Updated:

Lee explained plaintiffs are worried, if left unchecked, the African-American vote would become watered down.

BROOKHAVEN, Ga. - The State of Georgia is now the target of a federal lawsuit that asks a judge to allow all DeKalb County voters to participate in the City of Brookhaven's election in November.

Investigative reporter Aaron Diamant spoke with Jerome Lee, the attorney who filed the case, who said the unusual move was meant to protect the rights of African-American voters.

"In this day and age, this is still important," Lee said.

Lee filed suit on Tuesday against the state of Georgia and requested an emergency hearing.

Plaintiffs include a bloc of black voters, civil rights icon Joseph Lowery and the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus.

"When you allow people to come in and punch out economically valuable parts of a county, and then have that particular punch-out have racial lines, it becomes a very, very dicey matter," Lee said.

Lee explained plaintiffs are worried, if left unchecked, the African-American vote would become watered down.

"Now, you have these little enclaves of people that I'm now trapped inside with and we no longer have the ability to decide who's going to govern us now," Lee said.

The basis for Lee's argument: U.S. Census data, which shows, right now, DeKalb County's population is 54 percent African American, while the new City of Brookhaven's African American population is just under 11 percent.

Lee explained what he claims that means minority voters.

"At a minimum, it appears that you won't share certain characteristics with your new elected government," he said.

Lee admits his odds of success are not high, but he remains hopeful.

"The right to vote is fundamental to a democracy, and without (it), you can't function," Lee said.

Officially, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is named as the defendant in the case. A spokeswoman for the Office of the Attorney General said she couldn't comment on the case because her office had not yet been served with the paperwork.

Channel 2 Action News is still working to get reaction from candidates for elected office in Brookhaven.

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