The reparations task force will not comment on how much California should compensate black residents

The head of California’s first reparations task force said Wednesday he would not comment on how much the state should compensate black residents who economists estimate are owed more than $800 billion for decades of over-policing. disproportionate detention and housing discrimination.

The $800 billion is more than 2.5 times California’s annual budget of $300 billion and doesn’t include the recommended $1 million per older Black resident for health disparities that have shortened their average lifespan. The number also doesn’t count compensating people for property wrongfully taken by the government or devaluing black businesses, two other damages the state has perpetuated, according to the task force.

“All forms of discrimination should be considered in redress,” Thomas Craemer, a professor of public policy at the University of Connecticut, told the panel on Wednesday. “The task force should feel free to go beyond our loss estimates and determine what the correct amount would be.”

Black residents may not be receiving cash payments for the foreseeable future, as state legislatures and Gov. Gavin Newsom will ultimately decide whether compensation needs to be paid. The task force has until July 1 to recommend the forms of compensation to be awarded and recipients, along with other remedies to repair the damage.

But panel chair Kamilah Moore said Wednesday it was up to the state Legislature to allocate a refund amount based on economists-recommended methodology, which the task force approved on Wednesday.

“The task force is pretty much done on the compensation component. Our task was to create a methodology for calculating different forms of compensation that corresponds to our findings,” she said in an email.

For those who support reparations, the staggering $800 billion estimate underscores the long-lasting damage black Americans have endured, even in a state that has never officially supported slavery.

Several people who made public comments Wednesday spoke of the urgent need to pay black Americans for everything that was taken from them.

“My family came from the South because they were running for their lives and they were afraid they’d be lynched just for voting,” said Charlton Curry, from Sacramento, Calif., who talks about redemption on his Big C Sports podcast.

“Cash payments are necessary. Money talks,” he said, noting that through the Homestead Act of 1862, whites benefited from free US government land and Japanese Americans imprisoned during World War II and Jewish Holocaust victims received reparations.

Critics partly base their opposition on the fact that California was never a slave state, saying current taxpayers should not be responsible for damages related to events that happened hundreds of years ago.

Bob Woodson, a prominent black conservative, calls reparations impractical, controversial and counterproductive.

“No amount of money could ever ‘cure’ the ills of slavery, and it is insulting to suggest that it could,” he said in an email to The Associated Press, adding that black communities depend on faith and family to build thriving communities after slavery. “Some of these communities only began to break apart after we lost sight of those values, which are also key to restoring those communities.”

Financial recovery is only part of the package under consideration. Other proposals include paying market value to incarcerated inmates for their labor, establishing free wellness centers and planting more trees in black communities, banning bail, and adopting a K-12 Black Studies curriculum.

Talks about redress have stalled at the federal level, but the idea blossomed in California and in US cities and counties after the death of George Floyd, a black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police. Newsom signed legislation into law creating the Reparations Task Force in 2020.

A San Francisco advisory committee has recommended payouts of $5 million, along with a minimum guaranteed income of $97,000 and personal debt relief for qualified individuals. Regulators expressed general support but refrained from backing specific proposals. They will take up the subject later this year.

US Vice President Kamala Harris said on Wednesday from Ghana that she and President Joe Biden support a reparations study, but the president has so far dodged calls from advocates to create a federal commission.

California’s $800 billion estimate includes $246 billion to compensate eligible black Californians whose neighborhoods faced aggressive police and law enforcement in the 1970-2020 “war on drugs.” That would mean nearly $125,000 for each person who qualifies, the consultants wrote.

Numbers are approximate, based on modeling and population estimates. The economists also included $569 billion to offset the discriminatory practice of redlining home loans. That would work out to about $223,000 per eligible resident from 1933 to 1977. The $569 billion is considered the maximum and assumes all 2.5 million Californians who identify as Black would be eligible.

But they will not be all. Individuals must meet residency and other requirements for monetary compensation. They must also be descendants of enslaved and freed blacks in the US beginning in the 19th century, which leaves out black immigrants.

The task force also on Wednesday endorsed methods to devalue black businesses and unlawful possessions. These methods have no numbers due to lack of data.

AP White House reporter Chris Megerian contributed from Accra, Ghana. The reparations task force will not comment on how much California should compensate black residents

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