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Marchers use lynching site as backdrop for redistricting protest

Marchers opposed to the county council's proposed redistricting map make their way along Bosley Avenue Tuesday night. Credit: John Lee
Marchers opposed to the Baltimore County Council's proposed redistricting map make their way along Bosley Avenue in Towson Tuesday night. Credit: John Lee

In 1885, Howard Cooper was lynched outside the old Towson jail.

Tuesday night, a group started a candlelight march from the site to put pressure on the Baltimore County Council to change its proposed redistricting map.

Members of the Baltimore County Coalition for Fair Maps say the proposed redistricting plan is no good because only one of the seven council districts is majority African American, while about 30% of the county’s population is Black.

Danielle Singley, executive director of the Randallstown Branch of the NAACP, said the county has a history of systemic racism.

“We’re here today at this specific site because we want to remind our community, our elected officials, that we do have a legacy here,” Singley said. “Lynchings were not simply about crime. They were a way to put us, Black community residents, on notice and we’re not going to stand for it.”

There were about 30 marchers who made their way from the old jail at the intersection of Bosley Ave. and Towsontown Blvd. to downtown Towson. They chanted for fair maps and held candles as well as signs with slogans like “Democracy hanging by a thread” and “No minority Dilution.”

“We know that we have racially-polarized voting in this county,” organizer Sonia Shah said. “There has never been any Black candidates who have been elected by white majority districts.”

Council members have defended the map, saying it does include a second district where Blacks, Latinos and other minorities make up a majority of the population.

The county council will hold a public hearing on the map December 14 with a vote expected December 20.

According to the county charter, the council must pass a redistricting map by January 31.

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2
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