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San Francisco leaders show early support for $5 million reparation payments for eligible Black residents

A one-time payment of $5 million to each eligible Black resident is among recommendations unanimously accepted by San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors as part of a draft plan by a panel proposing reparations.

The move Tuesday was an intermediate step, with a final report that includes board feedback due in June, the San Francisco African American Reparations Advisory Committee said, and the board set to meet again on the issue in September.

“Now, the real work continues,” Supervisor Shamann Walton said. “As I’ve said before, we have to stay focused and stay together as a community because now it is 100% more prevalent that we cannot be separated or divided.

“Let’s not lose focus because when we receive the final report, we have to actually resource the path forward.”

While federal reparations efforts have stalled in Congress, efforts by cities from Massachusetts to Illinois to California to atone for harms rooted in slavery – and address the racial wealth gap – have gained momentum since the 2020 police killing of George Floyd rekindled the Black Lives Matter movement.

San Francisco’s reparations advisory committee was created in 2020 to craft a plan to address institutional, city-sanctioned harm inflicted upon African American communities. But city leaders in recent months have questioned whether the city can fund the reparation proposals.

“I think the big challenge has been, how do we quantify, how do we get to a number. And then the next challenge will be, where does that money actually come from? Who is responsible for that,” San Francisco Republican Party Chairman John Dennis told CNN affiliate KGO in January.

Members of the public who addressed city lawmakers Tuesday supported dozens of the reparations advisory committee’s recommendations related to financial reparations, housing, job creation, education, the school-to-prison pipeline, health and other local policies.

“Reparations is about justice,” said Mo McNelly, artist and “generational San Franciscan,” adding, “We cannot have justice for some and not for all.”

“The system is not broken,” resident Darnesha Carlos said. “It is working exactly the way it was intended to, and I think we need to acknowledge that, understand that and as the supervisors have chimed in and said they support this, that they want to see reparations.

“I trust when the rubber hits the road that those who have stood in solidarity today, will stand in solidarity with their vote.”

The reparations advisory committee has no authority to implement its recommendations. It laid out in January a list of qualifying criteria for the payments it proposes, including age, residency, and an ancestor’s enslavement, displacement or exposure to lending discrimination during certain periods

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