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Shirley N. Weber
Assemblywoman Shirley N. Weber. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Assembly Committee Passes Bill that May Lead to Reparation Payments

AB 3121 could recommend slavery reparations to African Americans in California

By Evan Symon, May 15, 2020 2:24 am

Earlier this week, the Assembly Judiciary Committee voted 8 to 3 along party lines to set up a Task Force to compile documentation of the institution of slavery in the United States and then issue recommendations on reparations, which includes compensation in cash.

A question of reparations

Assembly Bill 3121, written by Assembly Member Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), would have the “Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans” would also look into issues surrounding slavery in California, such as runaway slaves being denied entry into California before the 13th Amendment was passed. The 8-member Task Force, in addition to recommending reparations, would have to set parameters under who in California would be eligible for any reparations and how any reparations would be paid. The Task Force would also have to submit a report and recommendations to the Legislature upon completion of the study and proposal.

“California was nominally a ‘free state,’ but in practice we allowed slavery within our borders even after statehood, while runaway slaves were often denied sanctuary by the courts,” stated Assemblywoman Weber earlier this week. “After emancipation, California and local municipalities allowed or even actively pursued discriminatory practices akin to those found in the South to deny former slaves and their descendants access to housing, quality education, employment, fair wages, voting rights and the practice of professions.”

Assemblywoman Weber also noted that AB 3121 is now the top priority for the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC).

Support for AB 3121

Peter Burnett, the first Governor of California. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Supporters have pointed out the inequality of the African American population in California and how it partially stems from early discrimination in the 1800’s. One instance pointed out in particular was former Governor Peter Burnett’s 1849 proposal to ‘export’ every African-American out of the state.

“It was a struggle for a long time in California,” noted Oakland African American neighborhood activist Leonard Davis. “Here in Oakland, Watts, Compton. And in recent decades it still comes up with Rodney King, O.J. Simpson, and Oscar Grant. We’re still not seen as worthy of having justice, or the public always goes against the word of an African American.”

“And that has been passed down for generations here when they excluded African Americans, one hundred years before the Civil Rights movement and redlining.”

“Having reparations would be like Japanese Americans getting money for being interned during World War II. It doesn’t make it completely right, but it’s like court. You get money for the pain and suffering endured. And we have because of slavery.”

A ‘potential legal minefield’

Those against the bill have pointed out that while there have been injustices in the past, California had little to do with slavery before the Civil War as it was a free state and that, unlike Japanese American reparations in 1988, slaves that were directly affected have long since died generations ago.

“In school, whenever you learn about the Civil War in California, one of the first things you learn is that California was strictly in the Union and not the Confederacy,” explained legal adviser Richard Weaver. “There was no slavery in California. That alone should invalidate any reparations. If any state gives them it should be the South.”

“There are no living people who were enslaved, especially the zero who ever were in California, so why should descendants get anything? Are we basing this on inequalities now? If we are, then why bring up slavery reparations when it’s been generations removed?”

“And that’s not even getting into who should receive what. It’s a legal minefield. If it’s ‘all black people’, does that include an immigrant who came over from Ethiopia in 1993? Does it cover mixed race people? What percentage until they can’t? How can they prove it? Do they have genealogy that traces it back? What’s the approved method? There’s hundreds of other questions that would pop up too.”

“With Japanese Americans getting money 40 years later because of being interned, we had official records, and I’ll point out again, many were alive. They physically had this happen to them.”

“Honestly, the Task Force will probably do a great job in documenting the history of it and I’d argue that part is worth it because it’s an important part of our history. But I don’t think California would pass any recommended reparations, simply because no one alive was personally in the system or directly affected by it. Plus there are so many ‘what if’s’ here that you could take years in court just to argue over a single wording, let alone the whole system.”

AB 3121 will now go to the Appropriations Committee for a hearing. The bill is expected to be voted on in the next few weeks.

Evan Symon
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19 thoughts on “Assembly Committee Passes Bill that May Lead to Reparation Payments

  1. The only “reparations” that make sense would be those FROM the blacks who destroyed property and killed people during the Watts, Rodney King, and OJ riots.

    1. Or from those who lived off welfare for decades. That wasn’t “fair” (people choosing not to work yet allowing others [through the force of the Government] to support them with money that others had earned. Lots of “injustices” to whine about it seems.

    2. Sooo.. What these fools are saying is that Gavin is lying as usual and has LOTS of money to pay off his thugs to vote for him after CA 25 went RED.. So he can hand out 100 million for his illegal voters and another multiple millions to people who were never slaves and I was never a slave owner. How about you just get off your lazy rear end and work.. Thats the best reparations you can get. A job well done.

      1. The first American slaves were white people so they are first in line to get the next taxpayer funded bailout. Blacks already spent their reparations in the form of 50 years of welfare payments. Now its white crackers turn to feed on taxpayers.

    3. Herb That makes much to much sense that criminals should be held responsible. Look at the moron Rodney King who was smashing his car into others on the freeway. He became a symbol of respect for some. As for O.J. he may get some school or public building named after him. Just wait. J.

  2. And don’t forget to add to the list of those who abused the slaves, and must pay, are the Africans or their descendants who sold their own people in the first place.

  3. This goes to show us, never underestimate the stupidity of Democrats. $54 billion in the hole and they want pay reparations for slavery.
    I’m a red, white, and blue American of Mexican descent. I want my reparation, as CA and the Southwest used to be Mexico. I’m sure one of my ancestors suffered loss of property etc.
    This is ridiculous, none of us alive today can be responsible for what happened in the past.

    1. You’re right. Even though I’m white, I identify as a black slave. Please don’t challenge me because that makes you rasys

  4. This needs to be challenged in court. I had absolutely NOTHING to do with slavery, and I resent any inference to the contrary. Take this to the mats.

  5. Know what I hear in my head when I read this, “gimmie, gimmie, gimmie. Your state government
    wants to take money from people who never owned slaves and give it to people who were
    never slaves. Gimmie, Gimmie, Gimmie.

  6. I’m surprised there was no mention of Asians. Most of our mines and railways used Asians at a penny a day.

    Another thought is how far back do we go? Should Egyptian Americans pay a tax for enslaving the Hebrews?

    Would taxes be raised only in specific ethnicities?

  7. Most slaves came from 3 or 4 West African nations and were sold into slavery by other Africans. After a dollar number is arrived at, couldn’t the California Legislative Black Caucus send half of the bill to those West African nations ? Then, after default on the bill, the California Legislative Black Caucus could arrange the invasion of West Africa. Send gangbangers straight from prison and off of the streets of Compton. Would make a hell of a movie.

  8. Unstated in all this is that, by accepting a “Reparation” check, the recipient will have made a tacit admission that he or she was born in the United States by mistake and does not in fact belong here.

    Given the overall cost to society of a lifetime of black crime and dependency, reparation monies and a one way ticket to Africa might in fact prove to be a cost effective solution to their professed and unceasing cultural discontent.

    Hell, I’d even be willing to toss an M4 and 500 rounds of ammunition into the deal, something that they’ll need when they discover that racism-free Africans view them as nothing but a bunch of lazy, privileged and loudmouthed Americans.*

    Just a thought.

    VicB3

    *Imagine the hilarity as panicky phone calls fly across the Atlantic from Africa as these former “oppressed” Americans beg for somebody, anybody to get them the hell out of there. Doubtless this Ms. Weber would be one of the very first ones to make a call.

  9. My thought is, are you KIDDING me? There are going to be massive layoffs in schools in the next two years because there is a budget deficit due to our Governor’s extreme lockdown for COVID-19…. and we are going to spend money and time investigating what happened 150-200 years ago, so that we can “compensate” people who did not directly suffer from slavery? Yes, let’s make everyone today suffer more due to more money going out of government coffers and therefore more budget cuts, because that’s going to make things right for what happened a couple hundred years ago (in a state that wasn’t even a slave state).

    I’m sad to see Autumn Burke sign on to this as I generally respect her actions, but then again, the pressure might have enormous for her to join the cause. Someone was saying with regards to the murder of George Floyd, that riots are not the way to change things, making sure African Americans work their way into leadership and professional positions is, and that I would agree with. But then if you go and introduce bills like this into the legislature, you may find yourself being voted back out.

  10. What about Chinese getting reparations as there was a Chinese Exclusive Act and many Chinese railroad workers were never paid overtime?

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