Plans to provide a $5 million lump sum and a $1 home to black San Franciscans as repairs received vociferous support Tuesday at a Board of Supervisors public hearing, despite the no-cost plan likely to it will plunge the city into trouble, where a deficit of $728 million is already forecast for the next two fiscal years.
Black residents are eligible if they meet two of eight criteria, including being locked up or the descendant of someone locked up on drug charges, or being kicked out of a neighborhood.
Tuesday’s hearing was the first since the controversial scheme was launched.
And he saw enthusiastic San Franciscans line up to take the microphone and address the Board, with several singing in support. One sang a verse from Sam Cooke’s 1964 Civil Rights anthem A Change is Gonna Come.
Sergeant Yulanda Williams, president of the Police Officers for Justice association, told them: ‘My dad always taught me never to beg. And I’m not begging you today. It is time for you to do the right thing and provide us with amends: heal us.
Encouraged by the San Francisco African American Advisory Committee on Reparations (AARAC), which provided a free lunch for all attendees, the mostly black crowd recounted how racist policies affected their ancestors. and their own lives.
Supervisor Shamann Walton, center left, speaks during a special Board of Supervisors hearing on the repairs in San Francisco on Tuesday. Walton first proposed the plan in February 2020, and Tuesday marked the first public hearing to discuss a repair proposal filed in December.
San Franciscans lined up Tuesday to share their views on the proposal, all in support
AARAC encouraged attendees to express their views and organized a rally before the hearing.
Activists calling for reparations organized a rally on Tuesday before the Board of Supervisors meeting at 3:00 pm, where the public was able to share their views.
The AARC, a 15-member panel, met in December 2020 amid some soul-searching after the death of George Floyd, and was given two years to come up with proposals for redress.
Who qualifies for repairs under the AARC plan?
You must be:
1) A person who has been identified as ‘Black/African American’ on public documents for at least 10 years
2) 18 years or older
You must also meet two of these eight criteria and be able to prove it:
** Born in San Francisco between 1940 and 1996 and has proof of residence in San Francisco for at least 13 years
** Immigrated to San Francisco between 1940 and 1996 and has proof of residence in San Francisco for at least 13 years
** Personally, or someone’s direct descendant, imprisoned for the failed War on Drugs
**Attendance record in San Francisco public schools during the time of the consent decree to complete the disaggregation within the school system
** Descendant of someone enslaved through slavery in the United States before 1865
** Displaced, or direct descendant of someone displaced, from San Francisco by Urban Renewal between 1954 and 1973
** Registered or direct descendant of a Preference Certificate holder
** Member of a historically underserved group who experienced credit discrimination in San Francisco between 1937 and 1968 or subsequently experienced credit discrimination in previously marked communities in San Francisco between 1968 and 2008
His 60-page draft plan was published in December 2022. Among the 100 recommendations were payments of $5 million to every eligible black adult, elimination of personal debt and tax burdens, guaranteed annual income of at least $97,000 for 250 years, and housing in San Francisco for just $1 per family.
To be eligible, a person must be over the age of 18 and ‘have identified as Black/African American on public records for at least 10 years.’
They must also meet two of the eight criteria, including being born in or immigrating to San Francisco between 1940 and 1996 and having 13 years of proof of residency; or being able to prove descent from someone enslaved before 1865.
Other criteria include being ‘personally, or a direct descendant of someone, incarcerated for the failed War on Drugs,’ or proof of being ‘displaced, or a direct descendant of someone displaced, from San Francisco by Urban Renewal between 1954 and 1973.’
A final plan will be revealed in June and then put to a vote. The AARC dissolves in January 2024.
On Tuesday, Board members, some of whom had expressed skepticism in the weeks leading up to the meeting, unanimously supported the plan.
Some said they were shocked by critics, who said it was financially ruinous.
‘Those of my constituents who lost their minds about this proposal, it’s not something we’re doing or would do for other people. It’s something we would do for our future, for everyone’s collective future,” said Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, whose district includes the largely LGBTQ neighborhood of Castro.
Supervisor Myrna Melgar said, before the hearing, that she felt the reparations committee had done “exactly what we asked them to do.”
‘This report is good. I’m ready to accept it,’ she said. The San Francisco Chronicle.
‘That doesn’t mean we’re approving $5 million for each person. But I think it’s important that we recognize that, as a city, we haven’t done the right thing with some of our citizens.’
Even supporters of the plan, like Melgar, admit they haven’t figured out how to finance it, but insist that doesn’t make it unreasonable.
“I reject people who think that’s too much or that it’s ridiculous,” Melgar said.
All of this is well documented in history. We know that people were systematically excluded from educational opportunities, home ownership opportunities, everything else. How much does that cost? How do we quantify that?
Aaron Peskin, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, previously said that the $5 million idea is not viable.
“San Francisco doesn’t have the financial means, even if we thought it was good policy, to get into the repair payment business,” he said.
“But that should not cut short a conversation about the ways in which this society and its government should address the ills of the past.”
He told the newspaper that he didn’t think lump-sum reparations payments were feasible, but he felt some of the other ideas were interesting.
“That’s the biggest and most difficult conversation, and I think we’d be doing ourselves a disservice if we got lost in the policy of a one-time repair payment,” he said.
At least two of Peskin’s colleagues, Supervisors Joel Engardio and Hillary Ronen, previously expressed similar views, telling The Chronicle they thought the city probably couldn’t afford $5 million in individual repair payments.
Aaron Peskin, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, has said he believes the lump sum of $5 million per person is impossible, but he is open to some of the other 100 recommendations.
Eric McDonnell, Chairman of the African American Advisory Committee on Reparations (AARAC)
On Tuesday, Tinisch Hollins, vice president of AARAC, alluded to those comments.
“I don’t need to drive home the fact that we’re setting a national precedent here in San Francisco,” Hollins said.
“What we are asking for and what we are demanding is a real commitment to what we need to move things forward.”
The idea of paying compensation for slavery has gained ground in cities and universities.
In 2020, California became the first state to form a reparations task force and is still struggling to put a price on what is owed.
The idea has not been taken up at the federal level.
In San Francisco, black residents once made up more than 13 percent of the city’s population, but more than 50 years later, they make up less than 6 percent of the city’s residents and 38 percent of the population without home.
The Fillmore district once thrived with black-owned nightclubs and shops until government redevelopment in the 1960s forced residents out. On Tuesday, a man was wearing a Fillmore T-shirt.
Critics of the plan say the payments are pointless in a state and city that never enslaved blacks, and taxpayers who never owned slaves shouldn’t have to pay money to people who weren’t enslaved.
Supporters say that view ignores a wealth of data and historical evidence showing that long after slavery in the US lived.
John Dennis, chairman of the San Francisco Republican Party, said he does not support repairs, calling the city’s current conversation “totally unserious.”
The $5 million lump sum payment “seems ridiculous,” he said.
And he added: “It also seems that this is the only city through which it could pass.”