A controversial draft reparations proposal that includes a one-time payment of $5 million for each eligible black person could make San Francisco the first major US city to provide reparations money, though it faces severe financial constraints and fierce criticism from conservatives does.
Tuesday’s meeting of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will include a presentation by the African American Repair Advisory Committee of San Francisco, which released its draft report in December. The $5 million-per-capita payment is one of more than 100 recommendations offering grants to buy and maintain homes to exempt black businesses from paying taxes.
Supervisors can vote to adopt all, none, or some of the recommendations and change them. Several board members expressed concern over the potential injury the one-time payment would have on the city budget, which is already facing a shortfall.
An estimated 50,000 black people live in San Francisco, but it is unclear how many of them would be eligible for financial compensation. The recommendations set out several possible criteria, such as having lived in San Francisco during a certain time period and being descended from someone incarcerated for the police war on drugs.
Critics say the payment makes no sense in a state and city that never enslaved black people. Generally, reparations opponents say that taxpayers who were never slave owners should not give money to people who were not slaves.
Reparations advocates say that view ignores a wealth of data and documentation that shows that even after American slavery officially ended in 1865, government policies and practices continued to imprison black people at higher rates, house and This served to deny them access to business loans and restrict where they could operate. Live.
Eric McDonnell, president of the African American Reform Advisory Committee of San Francisco, said he is frustrated by those who do not understand the legacy of American slavery and how structural racism resonates through institutions today.
“There’s still a looming view that, frankly, black people don’t deserve this,” he said. “The number itself, $5 million, is really low when you consider the damage.”
San Francisco may be the first major US city to offer compensation to black Americans, as the idea of paying compensation for slavery profit traction in cities and universities. San Francisco could fund reparations even before the state of California, which in 2020 became the first US state to create a reparations task force. The idea has not taken up at the federal level.
Black residents once made up more than 13% of San Francisco’s population, but more than 50 years later, they account for less than 6% of the city’s residents – and 38% of the city’s homeless population. The Fillmore district once thrived with black-owned nightclubs and stores until it was redeveloped by the government in the 1960s.
Justin Hansford, a professor at Howard University School of Law, says that no municipal reparations plan will have enough money to right the wrongs of slavery, but he wants the city officials to “really, legitimately, authentically.” Appreciate any effort to make things right. And that includes cash, he said.
“If you’re going to try to say you’re sorry, you have to speak in a language that people understand, and money is that language,” he said.
Led by Supervisor Shaman Walton, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors formed a 15-member reappraisal committee in late 2020, months after California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed on to a statewide task force amid national uproar following the killing of George Floyd, a black man, by a white Minneapolis police officer. The hearing was set for February but was adjourned on Tuesday.
The committee’s final report is due in June, and there is no timeline for San Francisco to act on the recommendations. At Tuesday’s hearing, the board could direct staff to conduct more research, write legislation or schedule more meetings.
John Dennis, chairman of the San Francisco Republican Party, says he would support a serious conversation on the subject, but does not consider the board’s discussion of a $5 million payoff one.
“The conversation we’re having in San Francisco is not entirely serious. They just threw up a number, no analysis,” he said. “It sounds ridiculous, and it also looks like this is a city it could possibly pass through.”
McDonnell is frustrated by questions about how San Francisco will generate the money to pay for the panel’s recommendations.
He said, ‘We are causing damage. “If the judge rules in our favor, the judge won’t turn to us and say, ‘Help them figure out how to do this.'”
California’s task force continues to discuss recommendations, including monetary compensation. Its report is to be submitted to the Legislature on 1 July. At that point, it would be up to lawmakers to create and pass laws, often a time-consuming process.
A state panel made a controversial decision in March to limit compensation to descendants of black people who lived in the country in the 19th century. Some reparations advocates said the approach misses the ongoing disadvantages that black immigrants suffer.
Under San Francisco’s draft recommendation, a person must be at least 18 years old and have been identified as “Black/African American” in public documents for at least 10 years. Those eligible must also meet two of the eight other criteria, although the list is subject to change.
Those criteria include being born or immigrating to San Francisco between 1940 and 1966 and living in the city for at least 13 years; Be displaced from San Francisco by urban renewal between 1954 and 1973, or be a descendant of someone who was; Being a person affected by the War on Drugs, or their descendants; or being a descendant of an enslaved American person before 1865.
The Chicago suburb of Evanston became the first US city to fund the repairs. The city gave money to eligible people for home repairs, down payments on property, and interest or late fines owed on property in the city. In December, the Boston City Council approved the Repair Study Task Force.