California residents are awaiting key decisions from the Compensation Task Force


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Nearly two years after a California reparations task force began work, the group has yet to make key decisions that will form the basis of its final report on whether the state should apologize to black residents and pay restitution. caused by slavery and discrimination.

A vote scheduled for this weekend on eligibility requirements for payments and other remedies has been postponed due to the absence of one of the committee’s nine members. But the group could vote Saturday on whether lawmakers should create an agency to handle the potential compensation program.

Lawmakers passed legislation in 2020 to create a task force to assess how the legacy of slavery harmed African-Americans after they were dealt with through education, criminal justice and other disparities. The law directs the task force to review proposals for compensation with “particular attention” to descendants of enslaved blacks living in California and is not intended to replace the federal government program.

LEARN MORE: California task force votes to limit reparations to descendants of slaves

The work of the special group attracted a lot of attention because it was organized for the first time in the country. But some used the group’s recent two-day meeting in Sacramento to warn that too few black Californians know enough about its work.

Residents say the task force’s 500-page interim report, released last year, should be made available in libraries and schools. But others said publishing their work is not just up to the task force and its communications team.

“This room should be full of media, and it’s not because black people are being excluded,” Los Angeles attorney Cherise Cryer said Saturday. “We’re at the bottom of the totem pole.”

The two-day march in the state capital, Sacramento, comes as the group nears a July 1 deadline to report to lawmakers. The document will be an important milestone in the strengthening of reparations efforts in various parts of the country. It is a movement that has the support of a large number of African Americans, as well as Japanese American advocates who fought for families to receive payments from the federal government after the residents were placed in internment camps during World War II.

Tariq Alami, a Sacramento resident who has been following the task force’s work, said it’s clear the government has long accepted reparations for black Americans.

“It doesn’t take a genius to see that there are differences in society because black people date,” Alami said.

Dozens of advocates and residents flocked to the California Environmental Protection Agency building Friday and Saturday for public comment, from detailing family histories of property seizures to ancestors urging federal lawmakers to follow California’s lead.

After the task force issues its final report, the fate of its recommendations will be up to state lawmakers, two of whom are members of the task force — Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer and state Sen. Stephen Bradford, both Democrats from parts of Los Angeles. District. Lawmakers also decide where funding for compensation legislation will come from.

LEARN MORE: How St. Louis Is Dealing with Compensation for Black Citizens

The task force held several meetings to discuss the timelines on which compensation could depend on the five harms, which economists are calculating to help determine the extent of discriminatory policies against black Californians.

Those economists said some of the data and information they need to get further evaluations on Friday include figures on the discrepancy between what the government paid for property seized from black residents and the actual value. of these goods.

The task force previously proposed the following timelines for five wrongdoings that begin when a state is created or certain discriminatory policies are implemented: 1933-1977 for housing discrimination and homelessness, 1970-2020 for surveillance and mass incarceration, 1850 Unjust land grabs to 2020, health damage from 1900 to 2020, and black business devaluation from 1850 to 2020.

Task force member Monica Montgomery Stepp expressed concern Friday about making 1977 the year to end housing discrimination and homelessness, given that black residents make up a third of Californians. homeless. This year’s proposal comes on the heels of the passage of the Community Reinvestment Act, a federal law that encourages lending in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.

LEARN MORE: Older people are becoming homeless, and experts say the trend is likely to worsen

Economists say using this year helps support their assessment of the effects of government-sponsored redlining, when black neighborhoods are often classified as “dangerous.”

“There are additional reasons why people sleep rough,” said Field.

The panel voted last year to limit reparations to descendants of black people enslaved or free in the US since the 19th century. Members have yet to vote on whether compensation should be more limited to California residents or include people who live in the state and intend to stay but are displaced.

Elsewhere in the country, proposals for reparations for African Americans have had mixed results. A bill to allow the federal government to investigate compensation hasn’t come close to a vote in Congress since it was first introduced in 1989.

Evanston, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, made national headlines in 2021 as the first city to offer housing subsidies to black residents. But few people have benefited from this program, writes The Washington Post.

In December, San Francisco’s African-American Reparations Advisory Committee released a draft report recommending $5 million for each eligible individual. The city Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on the committee’s final recommendations.

In New York, state lawmakers earlier this year reintroduced a bill that would have created a commission to study reparations for African-Americans. ___

Sophie Austin is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national outreach program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues.

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