Demands for reparations are mounting and the Democrats are responding amazingly

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“It’s time to pay.” These four words from Democratic Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri will be heard frequently by Democratic politicians across the country this month. For Bush, the debt amounts to $14 trillion in reparations for black Americans.

In California, activists are demanding up to $5 million per black resident, asking Gov. Gavin Newsom, “Where’s the money?” A member of Newsom’s Reparations Task Force called on the state to pay its “sin bill.”

In New York and Chicago, mayors balk at the huge costs of shipping migrants from the border to their “cities of refuge.”


In Tampa, after demanding $3 million per black resident, a Witness said that he and others “made white people aware that we wanted our redemption.” After years of political campaigning on these issues, draft legislation is now due.

Reverend Tony Pierce is demanding millions of dollars in reparations for every black Californian at a meeting of the California Reparations Task Force on May 6, 2023.

Reverend Tony Pierce is demanding millions of dollars in reparations for every black Californian at a meeting of the California Reparations Task Force on May 6, 2023. (YouTube screenshot from the California Department of Justice channel)

Reparations and cities of refuge have long been the be-all and end-all of identity politics. For years, Democratic politicians have championed these “moral imperatives” by passing sanctuary laws and establishing reparations task forces.

This is equivalent to compound interest on credit card debt. In every election, Democrats used these issues for short-term political gain. Now those bills are due and Democratic leaders are balking.

President Joe Biden and Congress are engaged in a potentially deadly dispute over the impending default of our debt. It doesn’t seem like the ideal time to ask for an additional $14 trillion, but Bush declared, “The black people of our country can’t wait any longer.” She was joined by members including Congressmen Barbara Lee, D-CA, Jamaal Bowman, D -NY and Rashida Tlaib, D-MI.

This view is voiced across the country by black citizens who have been told that these payments are an undeniable moral obligation. Years of political wrangling over this issue has led to a sense of entitlement to large cash payments. As a prominent California activist explained, “It’s a debt we owe, we’ve worked for nothing. We don’t ask, we tell you.”

Newsom recently declined to pay the redress recommended by his own task force, but hinted that some cash payments might still be made. Newsom attempted the long-awaited about-face, saying rather ruefully that tackling the legacy of slavery “is about a lot more than cash payments.” It may be too late for this shoot. Recent polls show that 77 percent of black Americans now support reparations — a sharp increase in recent years.

Rev. Amos Brown, a member of the task force, said they would not accept excuses and that the state must commit to the full amount and “pay it in installments” if necessary.

The late New York Gov. Mario Cuomo famously said that politicians campaign in poetry but rule in prose. However, the “prose” of many Democratic leaders does not win any awards.

While many have decried the busing of migrants to cities of refuge, most privately admit there is an element of poetic justice in it. For years, these cities have told illegal migrants that they are welcome to come to their cities where they have protection. Then they showed up. It was a political version of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, the film about a liberal couple confronted with the visit of their daughter and her black fiancé.

An LA resident holds up a sign demanding atonement for slavery

Longtime Los Angeles resident Walter Foster, 80, holds up a sign as the Reparations Task Force meets at the California Science Center on September 22, 2022 in Los Angeles to hear public opinion on reparations. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The most captivating moment occurred on Martha’s Vineyard, where residents came out to clap and wave at the migrants as they were shipped off to a military base off the island. New York City has shipped migrants to other cities who are suing in court to stop relocation. Many of these cities point out that, unlike New York City, they have never declared themselves a haven for undocumented migrants.

Though those cities have received only a fraction of the influx from states like Texas, mayors in shelter cities like Chicago have expressed disapproval.

Like those awaiting redress, these migrants are understandably confused. They were told that Chicago was a “Ciudad Santuario”. Chicago reaffirmed that status in 2022 when it expanded protections and benefits.

At the time, politicians ran for cameras to proclaim that Chicago must be “a welcoming city for immigrants,” as did Councilwoman Rossana Rodríguez, reiterating that “our city has a responsibility to act in solidarity with those most marginalized are most affected by a system that oppresses them.”

Rev. Amos Brown, a member of the task force, said they would not accept excuses and that the state must commit to the full amount and “pay it in installments” if necessary.

Then they turned up in larger numbers, and former Mayor Lori Lightfoot called for the migrants to be sent elsewhere or held in border towns, where far more migrants are turning up.


In some cases, there is no choice but to try and quietly abandon previous campaigns that gained national recognition and caused great harm locally. For example, some of us have criticized cities like San Francisco for declaring boycotts on states that don’t share their views on issues like transgender rights.

I noted at the time that the boycott would cost the city dearly, as 22 states would be cut off from the cost escalation. This happened, and the city quietly lifted the boycott after losing millions. While the media paid far less attention to the resignation than it did to the initial decision, other regressions have come at greater political costs for the left.

For example, cities that have been at the forefront of efforts to withdraw police funds are now refunding police funds after crime rates have soared and police retirements and resignations are high. Activists in cities like Los Angeles called it a “slap in the face” in the face of years of promises by Democratic politicians.


Meanwhile, Newsom’s task force has called for a slew of other changes, including abolishing bail, stopping prosecutions for certain crimes, subsidizing home purchases for black residents, and ensuring a “right of return” by taking on development projects, to guarantee black housing ownership. Some of these reforms can be polished by politicians, but there is no trick that can disguise the lack of a cash payment.

These are the Democratic Party’s creditors, and they now seem intent on collecting the compound interest of years of identity politics.

A version of this blog previously appeared on Jonathan Turley’s blog.


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