Leaders of the Black Lives Matter group received widespread applause from a crowd of Democratic state legislators, Friday, for suggesting the government award the black community reparations for “systematic discrimination in law enforcement.”
“Thinking about decriminalization with reparations—the idea is we that have extracted literally millions of dollars from communities, we have destroyed families,” said Marbre Shahly-Butts, deputy director of racial justice at the Center for Popular Democracy, during her address at the State Innovation Exchange in Washington, D.C. “Mass incarceration has led to the destruction of communities across the country. We can track which communities, like we have that data.”
“And so if we’re going to be decriminalizing things like marijuana, all of the profit from that should go back to the folks we’ve extracted it from,” she continued.
The focus of state legislators should be “state budgets and then reparations,” Shahly-Butts said.
“‘Reparations’ makes people kind of uncomfortable, so we can call it ‘reinvestment’ if you want to. Use whatever language makes you happy inside,” she said.
Fellow panelist Dante Barry, executive director of the Million Hoodies Movement for Justice, also recommended some type of “reinvestment” to help black youth and said New York City would be better off investing $100 million in the black community rather than hiring more police.
“In terms of response around black youth unemployment, it gets back to this whole piece around reinvestment,” Barry said. “What would you do with $100 million? How would we better use that money to provide jobs for unemployed youth, to provide housing, to have mental health access. … It’s really about how do we rethink some of our budgetary needs and how we’re putting power behind the way that we can really incorporate reinvestment in communities.”
If there were one policy he would want state legislators to prioritize, Barry said it would be a ban on all guns on campus.
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