A crowd listens to speakers at a reparations rally outside of City Hall in San Francisco, Tuesday, March 14, 2023. Supervisors in San Francisco are taking up a draft reparations proposal that includes a $5 million lump-sum payment for every eligible Black person. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
By Janie Har in San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco supervisors have backed the idea of paying reparations to Black people, but whether members will agree to lump-sum payments of $5 million to every eligible person or to any of the more than 100 other recommendations made by an advisory committee won’t be known until later this year.
The idea of Black reparations is not new, but the federal government’s promise of granting 40 acres and a mule to newly freed slaves was never realized. It wasn’t until George Floyd, a Black man, was killed in police custody in 2020 that reparations movements began spreading in earnest across the country.
The state of California and the cities of Boston and San Francisco are among jurisdictions trying to atone not just for chattel slavery, but for decades of racist policies and laws that systemically denied Black Americans access to property, education and the ability to build generational wealth.
WHAT IS THE ARGUMENT FOR REPARATIONS IN SAN FRANCISCO?
Black migration to San Francisco soared in the 1940s because of shipyard work, but racially restrictive covenants and redlining limited where people could live. When Black residents were able to build a thriving neighborhood in the Fillmore, government redevelopment plans in the 1960s forced out residents, stripped them of their property and decimated Black-owned businesses, advocates say.
Today, fewer than 6% of San Francisco residents are Black yet they make up nearly 40% of the city’s homeless population.
Supporters include the San Francisco NAACP, although it said the board should reject the $5 million payments and focus instead on reparations through education, jobs, housing, health care and a cultural center for Black people in San Francisco. The president of the San Francisco branch is the Rev. Amos C. Brown, who sits on both the statewide and San Francisco reparations panels.
WHAT IS THE ARGUMENT AGAINST REPARATIONS?
Critics say California and San Francisco never endorsed chattel slavery, and there is no one alive today who owned slaves or was enslaved. It is not fair for municipal taxpayers, some of whom are immigrants, to shoulder the cost of structural racism and discriminatory government policies, critics say.
An estimate from Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, which leans conservative, has said it would cost each non-Black family in San Francisco at least $600,000 in taxes to pay for the costliest of the recommendations: The $5 million per-person payout, guaranteed income of at least $97,000 a year for 250 years, personal debt elimination and converting public housing into condos to sell for $1.
A 2022 Pew Research Center survey found 68% of U.S. respondents opposed reparations compared with 30% in favor. Nearly 80% of Black people surveyed supported reparations. More than 90% of Republicans or those leaning Republican opposed reparations while Democrats and those leaning Democratic were divided.
HOW WILL SAN FRANCISCO PAY FOR THIS?
It’s not clear. The advisory committee that made the recommendations says it is not its job to figure out how to finance San Francisco’s atonement and repair.
That would be up to local politicians, two of whom expressed interest Tuesday in taking the issue to voters. San Francisco Supervisor Matt Dorsey said he would back a ballot measure to enshrine reparations in the San Francisco charter as part of the budget. Shamann Walton, the supervisor leading the charge on reparations, supports that idea.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE OTHER REPARATIONS RECOMMENDATIONS?
Recommendations in education include establishing an Afrocentric K-12 school in San Francisco; hiring and retaining Black teachers; mandating a core Black history and culture curriculum; and offering cash to at-risk students for hitting educational benchmarks.
Recommendations in health include free mental health, prenatal care and rehab treatment for impoverished Black San Franciscans, victims of violent crimes and formerly incarcerated people.
The advisory committee also recommends prioritizing Black San Franciscans for job opportunities and training, as well as finding ways to incubate Black businesses.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
There is no deadline for supervisors to agree on a path forward. The board next plans to discuss reparations proposals in September, after the San Francisco African American Reparations Advisory Committee issues a final report in June.
WHAT ABOUT REPARATIONS FROM THE STATE?
In 2020, California became the first state to form a reparations task force. But nearly two years into its work, it still has yet to make key decisions on who would be eligible for payment and how much. The task force has a July 1 deadline to submit a final report of its reparations recommendations, which would then be drafted into legislation for lawmakers to consider.
The task force has spent multiple meetings discussing time frames and payment calculations for five harms experienced by Black people, including government taking of property, housing discrimination and homelessness and mass incarceration. The task force is also debating state residency requirements.
Previously, the state committee voted to limit financial reparations to people descended from enslaved or freed Black people in the U.S. as of the 19th century.
B.C. premier suspects Ottawa holding back information about foreign interference
A flock of birds flies past as Moninder Singh, front right, a spokesperson for the British Columbia Gurdwaras Council (BCGC), waits to speak to reporters outside the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara Sahib in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, September 18, 2023, where temple president Hardeep Singh Nijjar was gunned down in his vehicle while leaving the temple parking lot in June. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
British Columbia Premier David Eby said he “strongly” suspects that the federal government is holding back information that could help the province protect its residents who have connections to India from foreign interference.
Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc has reached out, saying Ottawa wants to make sure the provincial government has the details it needs to keep B.C. residents safe, “but there has not been good information sharing,” the premier said Friday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed in Parliament on Monday that Canadian intelligence services were investigating “a potential link” between the Indian government and the fatal shooting of Sikh advocate Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey, B.C., last June.
In response to the killing, Eby said on Friday that the priority should be protecting the criminal prosecution process so people can be held accountable for the killing.
But on the broader issue of ensuring community safety, he said there’s “a long way to go to share that information.”
Eby said people in B.C. have been “feeling pressure from India,” and he believes Ottawa has information through agencies including the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service that could help respond to foreign interference.
The premier’s initial statement in response to Trudeau’s announcement called on Ottawa to “share all relevant information” related not only to foreign interference, but also to “transnational organized crime threats” in the province.
He said Friday that the prime minister had reached out before telling Parliament about the probe based on “credible” information about the potential link between India and Nijjar’s killing.
Eby accepted Trudeau’s offer for a briefing by CSIS, but everything the premier knows about the situation is “in the public realm,” he said.
“I expressed my frustration in the meeting with the CSIS director about our inability to get more concrete information,” Eby said.
He made the remarks during a media question-and-answer session after addressing local politicians at the Union of BC Municipalities conference.
Eby said he understands there may need to be reform around the law governing CSIS in order for the agency to share the kind of information he’s looking for.
“If that’s what’s required, let’s make it happen, because the only way that we’re going to make traction on this is by the federal government trusting the provincial government with information and being able to act on it in our local communities,” he said.
Nijjar was a prominent supporter of the Khalistan separatism movement that advocates for a Sikh homeland in India’s Punjab province. He had been working to organize an unofficial referendum among the Sikh diaspora on independence from India at the time of his killing.
India designated Nijjar as a terrorist in 2020, an accusation he had denied.
Canada and India expelled each other’s diplomats in the fallout of Trudeau’s announcement, and India has halted visa services in Canada.
India’s government has denied the accusation as “absurd and motivated.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 22, 2023.
Here’s what Canada is pledging in multi-year support for Ukraine, updated trade deal
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy receives a standing ovation from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and parliamentarians as he arrives to deliver a speech in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023. Canada is making a multi-year commitment to provide steady support to Ukraine, including hundreds of millions of dollars for new armoured vehicles. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
By Nojoud Al Mallees in Ottawa
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday that Canada is making a multi-year commitment to provide steady support to Ukraine, including hundreds of millions of dollars for new armoured vehicles.
The two countries also signed a modernized trade deal, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits the country for the first time since Russia’s full-scale assault of Ukraine began last year.
A spokeswoman for Trade Minister Mary Ng said the new deal does not include substantial changes on market access, but adds services and investment clauses to the agreement, along with progressive language around labour standards and gender equality.
Meanwhile, the multi-year commitment includes $650 million over three years for 50 armoured vehicles that are to be built in London, Ont.
Friday’s announcement brings Canada’s total committed support to Ukraine to more than $9.5 billion since the beginning of 2022, according to a news release.
The new commitment comes as Ukraine seeks longer-term support from allies and worries emerge that some countries’ support may begin to waver as the war drags on.
Earlier this week, Poland’s prime minister said his country is no longer sending arms to Ukraine as a trade dispute between the neighbouring states escalates and his populist party faces pressure from the far right in the upcoming national election.
G7 countries promised in July to reach individual agreements with Ukraine to provide long-term military help.
In addition to new funding, the federal government has also announced the allocation of part of the $500 million of support Canada announced in June.
Those funds will go toward providing 35 drone cameras to Ukraine, as well as sending Canadian trainers to help Ukrainian pilots and maintenance workers use donated fighter jets.
Canada is also providing additional funding toward other initiatives in support of Ukraine, including mental-health care and non-governmental organizations.
Money will go toward strengthening nuclear security measures at the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone and replacing equipment destroyed or stolen by Russia when it occupied the site in 2022.
Friday’s announcement includes a further crackdown on Russia with a new round of sanctions.
Ottawa says it is placing 63 new sanctions on individuals and entities involved in Russia’s nuclear sector, the illegal transfer and custody of Ukrainian children and the generation and dissemination of disinformation and propaganda.
Canada and Ukraine say they will be working with international partners to establish a working group that would provide advice to decision-makers on the seizure of Russian assets, including assets of the country’s central bank.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 22, 2023.
— With files from the Associated Press.
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