Rainbow Push sues to stop Charter Commission

Operation Rainbow-Push is suing to keep you from voting on the Memphis Charter Commission.

The group worries that the method of electing Charter Commissioners is discriminatory and could lead to an all-white group of commissioners being elected.  They want a hearing in court.  But their fight has already angered others who also have a stake in this.

Longtime Memphian Fred Davis clearly wasn't there to play along.

"You want to have a press conference on your own?" asked Rev. Lasimba Gray.  "Go across the street and have your own press conference."

Instead, Davis watched on as Gray and members of the Rainbow-Push Coalition announced their lawsuit.  And he watched as they filed it in Chancery Court.

The lawsuit is designed to stop the election of a Charter Commission.

"This is designed to dilute black voting strength," said Rainbow-Push lawyer Javier Bailey.  He says that becauseall Memphians will be able to vote for representatives of each of the seven districts on the Charter Commission - instead of voting just by district - there is a chance that a big white voter turnout could influence the election.

"You're guaranteed that there will be literally an all-white charter commission in a majority black city and that's a dilution of the voting strength," said Bailey.

Davis is skeptical.  "Come on now, black folks are more than 60-65% percent of the Memphis population, how can the black community be at a disadvantage on an at-large vote?" he said.

Davis was the first black chairman of the Memphis City Council and helped craft the original charter.  Now, he's running for a seat on the Charter Commission.

The Rainbow PUSH effort - he says - is an outrage.

"I think it's awful," he says.  "Who ordained a small bunch of black preachers to decide that they spoke for all of the black community without the community's advice or consent?"

And he says their lawsuit is ridiculous.

Rainbow-Push is hoping to get a hearing within the next ten days, but certainly before the August 3rd election.