Chicago Aldermen To Vote On Ordinance To Set Up Reparations Commission

Craig Dellimore
June 05, 2020 - 8:29 am
Chicago City Hall
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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- During a tumultuous week, the Chicago City Council is continuing hearings into how the city might go about providing reparations for the descendants of slaves in the city.
 
The City Council Health and Human Relations Committee met Thursday to consider an ordinance setting up a reparations commission to study the issue and make recommendations. According to Alderman Roderick Sawyer, 6th Ward, it would be called “Chicago Citizens of African Descent Reparations Commission.”
 
Mayor Lightfoot encourages the discussion. 
 
"It's important that we have a discussion about racism, about our history here in the city, and I appreciate that Chairman Sawyer brought this issue forward and will continue those discussions in the coming days," Lightfoot said.
 
 
No vote was taken Thursday. The committee will meet to vote at 3 p.m. Friday.
 
According to Ald. Sawyer, the 16-member commission would be charged with holding hearings and developing a plan to “ensure equity, equality and parity for citizens of African descent in Chicago who are mired in poverty.” It would remain in place for 20 years to monitor and ensure compliance.

Members would include: Mayor Lori Lightfoot or her designated representative; five members of the City Council; and 10 members from the public, with at least eight of those from the “eligible impacted community.”

Thursday's discussion was kicked off by Author Cecile Johnson. She is also a human rights professor and stressed that the inequities and mistreatment of African Americans did not end with slavery.
 
"We need to have this conversation. We need more than a conversation. We need an investment in the black community, because as you see from some of the things that have happened in recent days, there is such a despair, there's such a, you know, people are so uncertain about their life," she said.
 
Alderman Andre Vasquez, 40th Ward, said he didn't need the “data points” Johnson provided, because “we’re living through it...We’re watching exactly what continues to occur and has occurred for generations, because of clear racist policy, racist culture.”
 
He wants hearings in white communities.
 
"We can all be here in this room saying how much we are in support and how it touches our emotions, but ultimately when it comes to the public that changes the calculation on what people say in this room and what they are willing to vote on," he said.
 
And he said it needs to be more than talk.
 
"I would love the opportunity to partner with you and some of our colleagues in the parts of towns that have not been ravaged like the rest of the town has. To really make this case now in the moment before two weeks from now, it's just George Floyd window signs and no one doing anything," he said.