City becomes first in nation to dole out initial ‘slavery reparations’ funds toward housing payments

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EVANSTON, IL – Back in November of 2019, the city of Evanston had become the first in the nation to approve what was coined as a “reparations” program for black residents within the city.

As of March 22nd, 2021, the city council has now approved where the first payments from the program will be allocated toward.

When the reparations effort was first announced back in November of 2019, it was noted that the city of Evanston would be gathering the funds via the 3% tax applied to marijuana sales.

At the time, the city had estimated that the “marijuana tax could generate $500,000 to $750,000 per year.”

The entirety of the fund itself is said to be capped at $10 million.

According to a report from the Chicago Tribune, city officials have now determined where the first payments of the reparations will go toward: housing grants for black residents.

Reportedly $400,000 from the city’s Local Reparations Fund will go toward this housing grant program, where eligible individuals can receive up to $25,000 to apply toward down payments for homes, home repairs/renovations, mortgage principals, accrued interest or late penalties, and the ilk.

The criterion for attaining these housing grants is based on more than just whether someone is a black resident in Evanston, though.

As noted in the Chicago Tribune, applicability for this housing grant requires the following benchmarks:

“To qualify, an applicant must have ‘origins in any of the Black racial and ethnic groups of Africa,’ according to the memo. Applicants must also be a Black resident of Evanston between 1919-1969, or that person’s direct descendant.”

“Applicants also qualify if they experienced housing discrimination due to the city’s policies or practices after 1969.”

So, it appears that the city of Evanston is doing it’s best to confine applicability to bona fide residents of the city who could have been impacted during the period in America when there were actual housing discriminations toward black Americans.

Furthermore, the reparations funding – at the very least – is not a blanket tax garnishment of all Evanston residents, but is only getting funded through those who choose to purchase cannabis from authorized dispensaries in the city.

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In other news related to reparations-influenced efforts, the city of San Francisco is reportedly shifting police funding towards the black community as a de facto reparations program. 

We at Law Enforcement Today recently reported on that effort back in February, here’s that previous report. 

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Mayor London Breed announced Thursday how the city will spend $120 million removed from law enforcement budgets. Labeled “The Dream Keeper Initiative,” the plan will reinvest the money into the city’s black community.

The Mayor called the initiative “reparations.”

Calling the reinvestment “reparations,” Breed said the transfer of funds from law enforcement to the minority black community was to make up for “decades of disinvestment” in the black community by the city.

The plan calls for the funds to be used for workforce development health campaigns, youth and cultural programs, and housing support with the minority, predominately black communities.

The Mayor said the spending plan includes priorities identified during community meetings and surveys with black residents.

Breed, the city’s first African-American Mayor, said that her motivation for carrying out the initiative was her own life:

“I grew up in poverty. I’ve had to live in poverty over 20 years of my life. And the frustration that came from living like that and then seeing so many of my friends who had been killed or in jail or on drugs — that is my motivation.

Because just imagine if we can change the outcome of African Americans in San Francisco. What an incredible, thriving city we truly will be.”

Funding for the intuitive will come from the budgets of local law enforcement agencies. $80 million will be shed from the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) budget over two years, and $40 million is from the Sheriff’s Department.

The cuts were prompted by a summer of protests following the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis on Memorial Day and calls by some Democrats to defund police departments across the country.

In June, Breed also ordered the police department to no longer respond to non-criminal complaints.

The actions of the Mayor and city council come at a time when crime has surged in San Francisco. Burglaries have been spiraling out of control, with a rise in property crime of 342.9% in the Richmond District alone. 

As of February 14, there have been 124 burglaries in Richmond this year. Robberies, assaults, and arsons were also rapidly increasing over last year’s numbers.

While the cuts to the law enforcement agencies’ budgets are deep, 6% of SFPD’s budget, the heads of both agencies were supportive when the coming cuts were announced last year. SFPD Chief of Police Bill Scott said in July:

“We knew there would be pain and sacrifice associated with these budget cuts, but we also know they’re necessary to fulfill the promise of Mayor Breed’s and Sup.

Walton’s reinvestment initiative to support racial equality. While the cuts are significant, they are cuts we can absorb, and that will not diminish our ability to provide essential services.”

However, when Mayor Breed asked Chief Scott to try and find places to cut the budget further during a budget meeting, he said doing so was not possible:

“The majority of our budget is personnel staffing, and we’ve cut pretty much everything we can cut.  Which will equate, because we’ve cut everything we can cut, in a reduction and a loss of 210 full-time employees.

“What you see highlighted in red are the stations that will be impacted the most. I am not supportive of these cuts. They will be devastating to the police department.”

The city’s President of the Board of Supervisors said the funds will help improve the black community. Shamann Walton said:

“This initial investment to improve outcomes for the black community and overturn years of disinvestment and inequitable resource distribution is just the first step in righting the wrongs of history.

“We now have to continue to prioritize communities that have never had a chance to build true wealth and this is a first step towards true reparations for the Black community here in San Francisco. We are proud of this work and looking forward to doing more.”

The cuts follow similar measures in Los Angeles, where Democratic Mayor Eric Garcetti and the city council voted in July to cut the budget of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) by $150 million.

Councilman John Lee voted against the measure, which passed 12-2.

Lee said LAPD was a model other departments look up to, and pointed out that two-thirds of their officers are black:

“I’m not saying LAPD is a perfect organization. There’s always room for improvement, but … other police departments throughout the nation strive to follow them on their community policing, use of force, de-escalation, and implicit bias training.”

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