EASTPOINTE, Mich. (WJBK) - Eastpointe holds its first city council meeting since the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit.
The suit challenges the city's method of electing council members, saying it's unfair to black voters. Now some residents expressed their outrage over the allegations.
Eastpointe has until the second week of March to respond to that lawsuit. City leaders mulled over how they should move forward in a closed session during Tuesday night's council meeting.
Residents have their minds made up and they are divided.
"They made a segregated city," said resident Harvey Creech. "It's that simple you can't cut it any other way."
Many in Eastpointe are incensed the federal government could revamp the way they vote for councilmembers because African-Americans are said to be shut out.
"Nobody goes out of their way to single someone out for race religion or anything else," said Patrick Wolff.
But the Department of Justice says Eastpointe didn't have to, because its' at -large voting process does it for them.
In nearly every contest between a black and white candidate, The Department of Justice says white voters cast their ballots in a bloc, opposing and defeating black candidates.
This left black voters without the opportunity to elect candidates of their choosing, violating a section of the Voting Rights Act.
FOX 2: "Do you feel like your concerns are being addressed here?"
"In general, no," Ford said. "I don't think they have in the past. I don't think they have in the past, but I think this lawsuit is bringing this more to the front."
"It's kind of disheartening that there's no one who looks like me, who is able to speak for me," said Keshara Mumford.
There's never been a black councilmember in Eastpointe, even though African-Americans make up roughly a third of the voting age population.
"If they show us this information and I'm convinced that white people in Eastpointe will not elect an African-American, then we have a problem," said Mayor pro-tem Michael Klinefelt. "And then we do have to fix it."
That would mean dumping the at-large voting system in exchange for districts, one of which would have a majority black population.
"If you say we have a black ward that doesn't sound very good," said Albert Rush, a local pastor. "Is it saying the other wards are about white? Are they saying we get a Hispanic ward, do we get a handicapped ward?"
FOX 2: "What are you most concerned about with this DOJ lawsuit?"
"Big brother," Lorraine Beeman said. "Tyranny. Telling us how we have to vote.
Fighting the issue in court could cost Eastpointe a million dollars and to create voting districts, about $50,000.
"Can we afford this when really we're taking money out of the pockets of all residents," said City Manager Steve Duchane. "Isn't it best to find a way to make this all work?
Moving to a district system would mean voting for new council members in the November election. That would mean those on the council right now will play a role in deciding if they may lose their jobs.