Minnesota City Forms Reparations Committee

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The city of St. Paul, Minnesota has formed a permanent reparations committee that will give recommendations on compensating the ancestors of enslaved persons.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the 11-member St. Paul Recovery Act Community Reparations Commission will serve as a permanent advisory body to Mayor Melvin Carter and the city council, recommending fiscal and policy choices “to specifically address the creation and sustainment of generational wealth for the American descendants of Chattel Slavery."

The journey to form the commission began over two years ago when grassroots efforts led to a formal apology from the city for its part in institutional racism. Following the apology, a temporary committee appointed by the city started to hold meetings, researching restitution and creating a permanent structure for a reparations commission.

The temporary committee recommended that St. Paul Recovery Act Community Reparations Commission start by examining direct cash distributions to qualified residents when it presented its findings to the council last summer.

“You guys are setting an example for the rest of the country with what you’re doing here,” said Trahern Crews, who co-chaired St. Paul’s temporary committee.

Appointed members of the newly-formed reparations commission, which will convene monthly, will each sit on the panel for three years. Preference will go to residents active in the community who “demonstrate lived experience as it pertains to the commission’s work, and comprehend the role of reparations in addressing the impacts of chattel slavery,” per an ordinance.

“When George Floyd was murdered in 2020, it became clear that all of us, in any position where we had any ability to make change, needed to make a real commitment to never go backwards,” said Jane Prince, a council member and the ordinance’s lead sponsor. “By our actions, we are committing St. Paul to never go back — but to keep moving forward toward the vision of real racial justice.”

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