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Koreatown residents take over LA City Hall chambers in effort to keep district whole

Koreatown residents sit in an L.A. CIty Counil hearing on Wednesday, March 7, 2012.
Ruxandra Guidi/KPCC
Koreatown residents sit in an L.A. CIty Council hearing on Wednesday, March 7, 2012.

With 10 days left until the deadline for the Los Angeles City Council to approve a new redistricting map, Koreatown residents showed up en masse Wednesday at City Hall to argue for their inclusion in a single council district.

Wearing yellow t-shirts that read “I Love K-Town,” residents took over most of the City Hall chambers. Dr. Paul Song was among the dozens who spoke out against the proposed redistricting lines, which would split Koreatown into two council districts.

"My name is Paul Song," he told council members. "My best friend is African-American, and my Spanish is much better than my Korean."

This time around, Korean protesters made sure to include a message of diversity. There were statements made by African-Americans, Thais, Latinos and whites in support of putting Koreatown within a single district.

"As an Asian-American, I would just not stand by and see this happen," said Chancee Martorell, a member of the Thai Community Development Center. "Because if it can happen in your community, and you’re the second-largest Asian/Pacific Islander community here in Los Angeles, it could happen in my community and in our other fellow Asian communities."

According to the latest census numbers, Koreans make up 13 percent of L.A.’s population. Koreatown is currently split among four council districts and, as a result, Koreans say they aren’t being included in the city’s democratic process.

Neighborhood organizations, community associations and nonprofits all have until March 17 to pressure the City Council to vote against having Koreatown divided into two districts.

If that doesn’t work, they plan on suing the city under the Voting Rights Act.