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D.C. Redistricting Plan Proceeds, Despite Contentious Hearing

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Council member Tommy Wells speaks to frustrated residents at a council hearing on redistricting Thursday.
Patrick Madden
Council member Tommy Wells speaks to frustrated residents at a council hearing on redistricting Thursday.

When a hearing ends with at-large Council member Michael Brown threatening to recite the alphabet while Council member Marion Barry is speaking, and other members are either trying to ignore Barry or cut his mic off, you know it's been a contentious meeting, even by District standards.

Such is the power of redistricting, a painful process for both residents and council members.

Questions of racism and segregation were raised at Thursday's subcommittee hearing by some members. And Council member Jack Evans, who sits on the subcommittee, was accused of gerrymandering the map by Council member Tommy Wells.

But Evans, a veteran of now three redistricting efforts, seemed to shrug off the remarks.

"This, I have to say, is nowhere near as difficult as it was 10 years ago. Ten years ago, people all over the city were up in arms," says Evans.

This year's battle ground is Ward 6, which is represented by Tommy Wells.

Neighbors in a Capitol Hill neighborhood there are upset they might be considered part of Ward 7, which is largely on the other side of the Anacostia River. Another part of Ward 6 may be swapped with Ward 2, which is Evans' Ward. The entire council will vote on the proposed changes in June.

CORRECTION: This report originally stated that Council member Marion Barry threatened to recite the alphabet. In fact, Council member Michael Brown made the threat while Barry was speaking.

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