Tag: slavery

Oakland to require contractors to disclose ties to slavery

OAKLAND — As lawmakers around the state are exploring potential ways to pay reparations for slavery, Oakland has revived and says it’ll enforce a seemingly forgotten city law that requires certain city contractors to disclose any historic ties to slavery.

The ordinance, approved by a city council 15 years ago, also creates a fund of reparations money that’s supposed to be disbursed to help residents in the city’s poorest neighborhoods. But it doesn’t force companies to put any money into the fund.

It applies to contractors that provide insurance or financial services to the city and to textile, tobacco, railroad, shipping, rice or sugar companies that do business with the city. Those businesses must complete affidavits confirming they searched company records for evidence that they had or hadn’t “bought or sold people subjected to slavery, used people subjected to slavery as collateral, provided loans to purchase people subjected to slavery, insured such transactions or the people subjected to slavery during the slavery era and/or provided related or other services to aid and abet such transactions.”

The affidavit has to include the name of enslaved people and slaveholders in company records and any evidence of business transactions that profited from slavery, according to a memo from City Attorney Barbara Parker, who brought the issue to the City Council on Tuesday night along with council members Larry Reid and Loren Taylor.

Although the ordinance was approved in 2005, there’s no record that it was ever implemented, according to Parker’s memo. There also isn’t any accessible form for contractors to submit or any public information showing whether or how city contractors are complying with the ordinance.

“The City Attorney’s Office has also heard reports that the City Administrator may have waived the requirements of the Ordinance for certain contractors, but that has not been verified,” the memo says.

The resolution passed by the City Council on Tuesday to revive the ordinance requires the city administrator to immediately prepare an affidavit form for contractors and to tell the council by the end of the year how the process is going, according to Chief Assistant City Attorney Maria Bee.

The ordinance also mandates the establishment of a fund to support education and economic development in “economically depressed” Oakland neighborhoods. City contractors or others could contribute to the fund, but won’t be required to.

By March 31, the city administrator will have to draft guidelines for how the city would use the fund, subject to the council’s approval. The city administrator will also have to create regular annual reports about the fund and the disclosure affidavits.

It’s unclear how many Oakland vendors would be subject to the ordinance, but the city attorney’s memo reports that an initial search yielded at least nine: JP Morgan Chase, New York Life Insurance, Wachovia Bank, Brown Brothers Harriman, Barclays, AIG, Aetna, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

Other cities have implemented similar disclosure policies and funds, including San Francisco, but according to that city’s 2017 disclosure report — the most

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California to consider slavery reparations after historic law


Hundreds of people gathered across U.S. cities on Friday to celebrate Juneteenth and call for racial justice in the United States. (June 19)

AP Domestic

California is now the first state to adopt a law that mandates a study of how the state could provide reparations to Black residents and the descendants of slaves.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the historic law Wednesday that creates a nine-member task force dedicated to coming up with recommendations for what form reparations might take and who would be eligible to receive them. The task force must have its first meeting no later than June 1 and submit its recommendations to the state Legislature one year later.

“As a nation, we can only truly thrive when every one of us has the opportunity to thrive,” Newsom said in a statement. “Our painful history of slavery has evolved into structural racism and bias built into and permeating throughout our democratic and economic institutions.”

‘The timing is right for reparations’: Cities propose reparations amid nationwide unrest

Reparations could come in the form of cash payments, student loan forgiveness, public works projects or job training. The law doesn’t limit the payment to slavery but requires the task force give special consideration for Black people who are descendants of slaves.

This image made from video from the Office of the Governor shows California Gov. Gavin Newsom signing into law a bill that establishes a task force to come up with recommendations on how to give reparations to Black Americans on Sept. 30, 2020. (Photo: Office of the Governor via Associated Press)

The law was championed by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, a Democrat and chair of California’s Legislative Black Caucus. Weber said Wednesday that while many are waiting for federal guidance on reparations, California has a responsibility to lead the way.

“California has come to terms with many of its issues, but it has yet to come to terms with its role in slavery,” she said during a news conference after Newsom signed the law. “After 400 years, we still have that impact.

“If we can do it others can do it also,” she said.

Although California entered the Union in 1850 as a free state, slave owners were allowed to bring their slaves into the state and state law required runaway slaves be arrested and returned to their owners.

Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, wears a face mask as she calls on lawmakers to create a task force to study and develop reparation proposals for African Americans, during the Assembly session in Sacramento on Thursday. The Assembly approved the bill that now goes to the Senate. (Photo: RICH PEDRONCELLI/AP)

The law was signed amid months of nationwide protests against systemic racism and police brutality, but Weber emphasized that this bill was authored long before the death of George Floyd and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

After Floyd was killed by police in May, some mayors and local officials proposed ways to examine the impact of slavery and help

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California passes a first-of-its-kind law to consider reparations for slavery

By Madeline Holcombe | CNN

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill establishing a task force to study and make recommendations on reparations for slavery.

Bill AB 3121 — the first of its kind in any state — was signed on Wednesday. It creates a nine-member task force that will inform Californians about slavery and explore ways the state might provide reparations, Newsom’s office said in a news release.

The task force will convene in the wake of nationwide protests calling for racial justice and police reform following the death of George Floyd while in police custody in May. Democratic lawmakers in Congress have also called for a vote on a bill to study reparations.

“As a nation, we can only truly thrive when every one of us has the opportunity to thrive. Our painful history of slavery has evolved into structural racism and bias built into and permeating throughout our democratic and economic institutions,” said Newsom in the release.

Newsom acknowledged that Black Californian’s and people of color in the state still face “discrimination and disadvantages.”

Other measures

The bill is joined by two others in the state that target structural racism and bias in the legal system by prohibiting the use of race, ethnicity and national origin to seek or obtain convictions or impose sentences, and to reduce discrimination in jury selection, the press release adds.

“While there is still so much work to do to unravel this legacy, these pieces of legislation are important steps in the right direction to building a more inclusive and equitable future for all.”

The idea of reparations for slavery has been in and out of political conversations since the end of the Civil War. Republicans have been critical of the concept, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying last year he opposed the idea, arguing “none of us currently living are responsible” for what he called America’s “original sin.”

But the city of Asheville, North Carolina, unanimously approved a reparations resolution for Black residents in July, formally apologizing for the role it played in slavery and implementing racist policies.

Instead of mandating direct cash payments to descendants of slaves, the city plans to make investments in areas where Black residents face disparities.

In February this year, California also made a formal apology for the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Internment was the largest single forced relocation in US history, with more than 100,000 Japanese Americans incarcerated around the country.

“Given recent national events, it is all the more important to learn from the mistakes of the past and to ensure that such an assault on freedom will never again happen to any community in the United States,” the resolution reads.

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California to consider slavery reparations after landmark law passed

California will consider paying reparations to descendants of slavery, becoming the first state in the US on Wednesday to adopt a law to study and develop proposals around the issue.

Photograph: Rich Pedroncelli/AP

© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Rich Pedroncelli/AP

The law establishes a nine-member taskforce to develop recommendations for how California could provide reparations to Black descendants of enslaved people and those affected by slavery, and would look into what form those reparations might take and who would receive them.

Related: Black residents nearly four times as likely to be cited by Los Angeles police, report finds

The recommendations would not be binding. The taskforce must submit a report to the state legislature one year after its first meeting.

Video: The citizens arrest law cited in Ahmaud Arbery’s death was created to control the Black population. (The Washington Post)

The citizens arrest law cited in Ahmaud Arbery’s death was created to control the Black population.



“As a nation, we can only truly thrive when every one of us has the opportunity to thrive,” Gavin Newsom, California’s governor, said in a statement. “California’s rich diversity is our greatest asset, and we won’t turn away from this moment to make right the discrimination and disadvantages that Black Californians and people of color still face.”

a person talking on a cell phone: The California assemblywoman Shirley Weber calls on lawmakers to create a taskforce to study and develop reparations proposals for African Americans in June.

© Photograph: Rich Pedroncelli/AP
The California assemblywoman Shirley Weber calls on lawmakers to create a taskforce to study and develop reparations proposals for African Americans in June.

Reparations have been a controversial subject in the US for some time, especially amid the reckoning on racial injustice following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The Union general William Sherman’s promise of “40 acres and a mule” to newly freed people never came to fruition following the end of the American civil war in 1865, and instead, “our painful history of slavery has evolved into structural racism and bias built into and permeating throughout our democratic and economic institutions”, Newsom said.

California entered the US as a “free state” in 1850, 11 years before the start of the civil war. But its history with slavery was much more complicated than that, according to the California Historical Society. Many who took to the Sierra Nevada foothills during the Gold Rush in the years before California’s statehood brought enslaved people with them.

The state constitution proclaimed “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, unless for punishment of a crime, shall ever be tolerated”, yet the legislature passed a fugitive slave law “specifically targeting Blacks who escaped in California and had not fled from slave states”.

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