SAN FRANCISCO – The controversial reparations bill, which includes a one-time payment of $5 million for each eligible black person, could make San Francisco the first major US city to fund reparations, though it faces deep financial difficulties and fierce criticism from conservatives .

Tuesday’s meeting of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will include a presentation by the San Francisco African American Reparations Advisory Committee, which released a draft report in December. The $5 million per person payment is among more than 100 recommendations, ranging from providing grants to buy and maintain homes to exempting black businesses from paying taxes.

The video in the player above is from a previous report.

Controllers can vote to accept all, none, or some of the recommendations, and can change them. Several council members expressed concern about the potential hit to the one-time payment and other options for a city budget already facing a deficit.

RELATED: Some black San Francisco residents may be eligible for $5 million in compensation proposed by compensation committee

An estimated 50,000 blacks live in San Francisco, but it is unclear how many will be eligible for financial compensation. The guidelines lay out a number of possible criteria, such as living in San Francisco for a certain period of time and coming from someone who was incarcerated in the police war on drugs.

Critics say the payouts don’t make sense in a state and city that has never made black people. Generally, opponents of reparations say that taxpayers who were never slave owners should not have to pay money to people who were not enslaved.

Proponents of reparations argue that this view ignores a wealth of data and documentation showing that even after slavery in the US officially ended in 1865, government policies and practices continued to incarcerate blacks at higher rates, deny them access to housing and business loans and limiting the place for them to work and live.

Eric McDonnell, chairman of San Francisco’s African American Reparations Advisory Committee, said he’s frustrated by people who don’t understand the legacy of U.S. slavery and how structural racism plays out in today’s institutions.

“There’s still a veiled perception that, frankly, black people don’t deserve it,” he said. “The number itself, $5 million, is actually small when you consider the damage.”

San Francisco could become the first major US city to fund reparations for black Americans as the idea of ​​paying reparations for slavery gains traction in cities and universities. San Francisco could even fund reparations before the state of California, which in 2020 became the first US state to form a reparations task force. At the federal level, this idea was not raised.

Blacks once made up more than 13% of San Francisco’s population, but more than 50 years later, they make up less than 6% of the city’s residents — and 38% of the city’s homeless population. The Fillmore neighborhood once thrived with nightclubs and black-owned stores until the government forced residents out of redevelopment in the 1960s.

RELATED: Californians are awaiting key decisions from the reparations task force

Justin Hansford, a professor at Howard University School of Law, says no municipal compensation plan will have enough money to right the wrongs of slavery, but he appreciates any attempt by city officials to “really, legally, authentically” fix the situation. And that includes cash, he said.

“If you’re going to try to forgive, you have to speak a language that people understand, and that’s the language of money,” he said.

Led by Supervisor Shaman Walton, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors created a 15-member reparations committee in late 2020, months after California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a state task force amid national outcry after a white Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd, a black man. The trial was scheduled for February, but was postponed to Tuesday.

The committee’s final report is due in June, and San Francisco has no timeline for implementing the recommendations. At Tuesday’s hearing, the council could direct staff to conduct further research, write legislation or schedule additional meetings.

John Dennis, chairman of the San Francisco Republican Party, does not support reparations, but says he would support a serious conversation about the issue. He doesn’t see the board’s discussion of the $5 million payout as one.

RELATED: California plans to pay $5 million in restitution

“This conversation we’re having in San Francisco is completely frivolous. They just threw up a number, there is no analysis,” he said. “It seems ridiculous, and it also seems like it’s the only city he can get through.”

McDonnell is frustrated by questions about how San Francisco will generate the money to pay for the group’s recommendations.

“We suffered,” he said. “If the judge had ruled in our favor, the judge wouldn’t have turned to us and said, ‘Help them figure out how to do this.’

The California task force continues to make thoughtful recommendations, including monetary compensation. Her report should be presented to the legislature on July 1. At this point, lawmakers will draft and pass legislation, which often takes a long time.

A state panel made a controversial decision in March to limit reparations payments to descendants of black people who were in the country in the 19th century. Some reparations advocates said the approach fails to address the ongoing harms suffered by black immigrants.

According to San Francisco’s draft guidelines, an individual must be at least 18 years old and listed as “Black/African American” on government records for at least 10 years. Eligible people must also meet two of the other eight criteria, although the list is subject to change.

These criteria include being born in or migrating to San Francisco between 1940 and 1996 and living in the city for at least 13 years; having been resettled from San Francisco as a result of urban renewal between 1954 and 1973, or a descendant of one who was; be a person incarcerated as a result of the war on drugs, or a descendant of one; or be a descendant of an enslaved US person before 1865.

The Chicago suburb of Evanston became the first US city to fund reparations. The city gave money to people who qualified for home repairs, down payments on property and interest or delinquent fines on property in the city. In December, the Boston City Council approved a task force to study reparations.

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