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

Reparation Task Force Bill Passes Assembly, Senate

‘You can inherit the debt that you owe to African-Americans’

By Evan Symon, August 31, 2020 2:33 pm

During the weekend, a recently amended bill that would create a task force to issue recommendations on reparations for African Americans in California was passed in both the Senate and Assembly during floor votes, moving the legislation on to the Governor.

AB 3121 and the reparation task force

Assembly Bill 3121, authored by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), would establish the “Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans.” The task force, comprised of 9 members selected by the Governor, Assembly, and Senate based on Civil Rights, Civil Justice, and lawmaking expertise, would look into issues surrounding slavery in California, such as not admitting runaway slaves and other policies before the end of the Civil War.

The task force would then set perimeters on who would possibly be eligible for reparations, what those reparations should be, and how they would be distributed. The Task Force would then submit a report and recommendations to the Legislature upon completion of the study. The Legislature would then possibly vote or act on the findings and reparation ideas given.

Since being introduced and passed by the Assembly earlier this year, AB 3121 had been amended in small but impactful ways. The number of task force members was increased from 8 to 9 to avoid any tie votes, with the Governor being given more people to choose for the task force, from the original 2 to 5. The Assembly and Senate were given fewer with the amendments, from each house going from the original 3 to 2.

The wording on who the bill would cover was also changed from “Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans who are descendants of persons enslaved” to “Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans, with a Special Consideration for African Americans Who are Descendants of Persons Enslaved” to help make it clear that reparations would only go to those who had family members that were slaves before the passage of the 13th Amendment in 1865.

Reasons behind AB 3121

Senator Steven Bradford. (Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Assemblywoman Weber had written the bill as a way to right the wrongs of the past and to help fix the post-1865 racial injustice caused by the institution of slavery such as housing discrimination and fewer opportunities stemming from racism.

“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 year. “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.”

11 Assemblymembers and 2 Senators joined Assemblywoman Weber in co-authoring the bill, adding on to her reasoning after the bills passage in both houses this weekend.

“If the 40-acres-and-a-mule that was promised to free slaves were delivered to the descendants of those slaves today, we would all be billionaires,” said Senator and AB 3121 co-author Steven Bradford (D-Gardena). “I hear far too many people say, ‘Well, I didn’t own slaves, that was so long ago.’ Well, you inherit wealth — you can inherit the debt that you owe to African-Americans.”

‘California was a union state – there was no slavery here’

Those who opposed the bill pointed out that California had little to do with slavery, as it had been a free state during the Civil War and was highly diverse at the time due to high amounts of immigration from Asia and other parts of the world, as well as many Hispanic settlers either staying or coming over following the Mexican-American War.

“Reparations make little sense,” noted legal adviser Richard Weaver to the Globe. “A task force is one thing, like what AB 3121 wants, as it would find, conclusively, what the toll has been for African Americans. But having them recommend what should be given? Hinting that payment should be monetary, if not more? It’s going way too far.”

“California was a union state. There was no slavery here. No one alive was involved in this institution anywhere. That’s it. Period. Legally, that should be it.”

In a previous Globe interview, Weaver also explained the difficulties in deciding who should receive reparations if thee bill is passed.

“That’s not even getting into who should receive what,” said Weaver earlier this year. “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.”

AB 3121 was passed by large majorities during the weekend, 33-3 with 4 abstentions in the Senate, and 58-12 with 9 abstentions in the Assembly. Recent events in Kenosha, Wisconsin, as well as the lingering sentiment following the George Floyd protests earlier this year, partially fueled the large gaps in voting. While it was a largely partisan vote in both houses, members of both parties did abstain, with some Republicans, such as Senator Brian Dahle (R-Bieber), voting for approval.

The bill is now on Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk where it is likely to be signed by the end of September.

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12 thoughts on “Reparation Task Force Bill Passes Assembly, Senate

  1. Reparations for what exactly. Slavery was formerly abolished in 1865. Surely none of these people today are that old.

    1. This state just wants more money, liars cheats and Whores run this state. Good thing we are moving out state in two weeks.

  2. Your EBT cards, free ‘education’, and all the other welfare apologies are all reparations. So STFU and get a real job.

  3. When are you going to pay reparation for the horrors you imposed on Israel? Apparently there is no statute of limitations on reparations. So you owe them compensation and interest on 4000 years. You first before I even consider your request.

  4. THIS HAS GOT TO BE A JOKE!!!
    WHAT AN ABSOLUTE WASTE OF TAXPAYER MONEY.
    CALIFORNIA BECAME A STATE IN 1850. THE CIVIL WAR ABOLISHING SLAVERY WAS FOUGHT TO END SLAVERY, 1851-1865. WHY, WHY, WHY, THE CONTINUED BLAME CARD. WHAT ABOUT DIVERTING TAXPAYER MONEY TO FIGHT AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING HERE IN CALIFORNIA NOW?

  5. Where does this all stop? Do we give reparations to the native Americans? Asian Americans from what I understand had a particularly rough time the way they were treated on California, do they get reparations? I hear some people say well Germany did pay reparations to the Jews. They did, in 1952 when the survivors of the Holocaust were still alive and then they didn’t give it to any individuals they gave it to Isreal. My great grandfather came over here with his family during the potato famine. Many Britt’s took advantage of this and bought property from the Irish for next to nothing. If this is so in my ancestry does Britain owe me reparations?

    If we really apply reparations of land and money all across the board globally for crimes committed against groups of people we would see the largest transfer of wealth and migrations in human history. I’m sorry the freed slaves didn’t get there 40 acres and a mule, I could see giving it to them or even their children if they were alive when slavery was still going on because their lives were directly impacted by slavery. And as far as discrimation is concerned once again where do we stop. Once again I’ve seen old photographs of signs saying we don’t hire Irish or Irish are not welcome here, should I get reparations?

    I’m not a hard core conservative and I do believe not so much in give away program’s except for acute situations or those who are truly physically handicapped but I do believe in programs in getting tool’s, education and means for the poor to have a better ability for themselves be able to improve their own lives, that should in the long run make up for past injustices. This collective reparations for injustices that weren’t even committed to the people themselves is absurd, and especially if it’s translated into more just give away programs I’m sure it won’t in the long run help anyone. Just watch the Dave Chappelle skit if reparations were paid out😂😂.

  6. Just another method for government to steal money from hard working Americans and give to those that are a tax burden. I hope this causes a race war so we can finally end reverse discrimination.

  7. we have spent trillions on this particular group since the 60;s with HUD, welfare, affirmative action and who knows what else and still they are no better off today ? why ? if this particular group would only look in the miirror they would see the problem…

  8. Can any one in the state legislature really think this is right or faIr? It is actually just dumb. with no thought behind it.
    give them the equal value of 40 acres and a mule. Back in 1850.
    $25-30.00 ?
    What about the Democratic carpet baggers who came thru the south After the war and stole property from white and black businesses and small land holders.? Not every one living in the south was wealthy, a slave owner, or fought in the Confederate army. If you can prove your southern family did not ever own slaves will you be exempted from.paying this tax? For it will be a tax. That is the basic way a state gets money. Even if its not called a tax.
    or just because you live in California will you have to pay this even if your family came to the United states after 1880?
    I think this might be a full employment act for attorneys.
    Or for moving companies moving people out of California.

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  10. Can someone tell me what the total allocated cost is for this bill? How much money are the tax payers of California going to pay to study this issue? I think issues like like this should be left to the Universities to study and not make the hard working tax paying citizens pay for this. I read something like 1.25 Billion dollars for the study, is that correct? Is this a way for a few selected people to have a job to study ancient history and then decide how much more money will be given to a group of people only because they are descendants from over 150 years ago? Wow look at all the politicians that voted for this bill, really, look at them.

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