Black voters in Wayne County, Michigan, home to Detroit are turning the tables on President Donald Trump, filing a lawsuit against him and his campaign claiming that targeted, racialized attempts to overturn election results amounts to one of the “worst abuses in our nation’s history,” ABC News reports.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), filed the complaint on behalf of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization and three Detroit residents on Friday.
“Defendants’ tactics repeat the worst abuses in our nation’s history, as Black Americans were denied a voice in American democracy for most of the first two centuries of the Republic,” the lawsuit states. “This is a moment that many of us hoped never to face.”
“No more,” the lawsuit continues. “The Voting Rights Act of 1965 flatly prohibits Defendants’ efforts to disenfranchise Black people and assault our Republic.”
According to the Hill, President-elect Joe Biden won Wayne County with 597,170 votes to Trump’s 264,553 votes — including a margin of more than 200,000 votes in Detroit.
Writing for ESSENCE, Movement for Black Lives leaders Kayla Reed and Jamecia Gray explain that, “In Michigan, Detroit Action, led by Brenden Snyder, and One Love Global, led by M4BL leader Angela Austin, moved a powerful organizing strategy that helped close the gap in the final days of the election, aiding the narrative that Black voters and those voting in defense of Black lives in cities like Detroit were using their electoral power to fight for change.”
The complaint also accuses Trump and his administration of attempting to “intimidate” and “coerce” state and local officials into replacing electors. Trump invited two Republican state lawmakers from Michigan to the White House last week. He also called two Republican canvass board members from Wayne County to offer his support, CNN reports. The board members in question filed affidavits to rescind their votes to certify the election result.
“Central to this strategy is disenfranchising voters in predominately Black cities, including Detroit, by blocking certification of election results from those cities or counties where they are located. Further, Trump and his campaign have continued to claim “widespread fraud in Detroit and other cities with large Black populations, including Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Atlanta, in an effort to suggest votes from those cities should not be counted.”
Daniel Weiner, deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Election Reform Program told ABC News that Trump’s actions are not just a moral or ethical issue, but potentially a legal one.
“From a moral and from an ethical perspective it’s obviously profoundly troubling and in many respects, we haven’t seen anything like this in the modern era — a sitting president, trying to basically subvert the election,” Weiner said. “But also it’s troubling and concerning from a legal perspective, and folks who are taking part in these meetings should think long and hard about it. Offering, pressuring government officials to take official acts in exchange for benefits tangible or intangible is a federal crime.”