California Black Caucus Chair Introduces ‘Reparations’ Bill

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Written by Ann Brown
There’s a saying that what happens politically in California sweeps across the country. If this holds true it is good news for the fight for reparations. Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, discusses her bill that would allow police to use deadly force only when there is no reasonable alternative, during a news conference, Feb. 6, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif. Weber’s measure is one of two competing proposal over when police can use deadly force. Weber was accompanied by Beatrice Johnson, left and Cephus Johnson, center, the aunt and uncle of Oscar Grant who was killed by BART police n 2009. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

There’s a saying that what happens politically in California usually sweeps across the country. Well, if this holds true it is good news for the fight for reparations. 

“Assemblymember  Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, has introduced a new bill, AB 3121. It calls for setting up a task force to study and develop reparation proposals for African Americans,” The Sacramento Observer reported.

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“Existing law,” the language of the legislation reads, “requests the Regents of the University of California to assemble a colloquium of scholars to draft a research proposal to analyze the economic benefits of slavery that accrued to owners and the businesses, including insurance companies and their subsidiaries.”

AB 3121 will require eight members to be appointed to the task force.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, isn’t for reparations. Recently, she said that while she understands why Black leaders are calling for reparations she feels the issue is divisive.

“I understand why. I also understand the wound that it opens and the trials and tribulations it’s going to bring about. Some things are just better left alone and I think that’s one of those things,” Feinstein said, according to The Hill.

“This is a major blemish on American democracy that has lasted for over 100 years now,” Feinstein said. “It’s not going to change and we have to learn from it and I think we have.”

Under the new California proposal, the task force will “identify, compile, and synthesize the relevant corpus of evidentiary documentation of the institution of slavery that existed within the United States and the colonies,” the language goes on. “ The bill would require the Task Force to recommend, among other things, the form of compensation that should be awarded, the instrumentalities through which it should be awarded, and who should be eligible for this compensation.”

Other members of the CLBC co-authored AB 3121, including Senators Steven Bradford (D-Los Angeles) and Holly J. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles); Assembly Members include Autumn Burke (D-South Bay, Los Angeles), Jim Cooper (D-Sacramento), Mike Gipson (D-Carson), Chris R. Holden (D-Pasadena), Reginald Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles), and Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento).