Chicago suburb begins doling out reparations payments in ‘test run for the whole country’

Evanston, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, has become the first city in the nation to hand out reparations to black residents due to housing discrimination, and a civil rights advocate called the program a “test run for the whole country.”

(Video Credit: Straight Arrow News)

The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that approximately 140 residents will each receive $25,000 by the end of the year.

The city of roughly 75,000 residents approved $10 million in reparations back in 2019 to be doled out over 10 years. According to the Evanston Round Table, sixteen qualified residents have already received reparations payments.

To qualify for the reparations payments an individual must have been at least 18 years old and they had to have lived in the city between 1919 and 1969.

Reparations are being paid by the city in the form of cash or vouchers. Supposedly, the money is coming from marijuana and real-estate transfer taxes.

Marijuana sales tax revenue plummeted after a second dispensary in the city was delayed, according to the Evanston Round Table. Another one should open in September so the city can start bleeding its profits dry for reparations.

The other source of funding will come from Evanston’s graduated real estate transfer tax on properties worth over $1 million and that will have ramifications as well. It will act as wealth redistribution to the black community. Illinois is not the only state to impose such a tax but it is not an incentive to reside in the state.

City officials believe that the entire program will be funded by egregious taxation. According to Evanston’s assistant to the city manager, Tasheik Kerr, $1,188,000 has already been collected to cover reparations disbursements.

The head of the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center at Howard University, Justin Hansford, is crowing that he views the plan as “a test run for the whole country.”

As expected, some believe the payments are not enough.

Resident and civil rights activist Bennett Johnson is incensed over the city’s 1969 cutoff year. He called it “totally arbitrary” despite the city passing a fair-housing law at that time.

He contends that black residents were still being “discriminated” against and “hurt” after that date, according to the Evanston Round Table and he’s railing that the payments are not high enough.

“I believe that [Evanston is] doing the same thing that we’ve done in the past, downgrading the ability of black people to do things for themselves,” Johnson claimed. “We could realize that if we don’t let black people control this, we [are] still doing the same thing that we’ve done in the past.”

Ramona Burton, who is one of the recipients of the money asserted that she believes the payment is “a good start.”

“It’s better than a blank,” she commented.

One virtual attendee of a Reparations Committee meeting asked about the legality of the program after the Supreme Court ended affirmative action. Corporation Counsel Nicholas Cummings noted the program is not an affirmative action program or related to college admissions.

“But beyond that, the program has always been designed to try and withstand the highest level of scrutiny by the Supreme Court, which is strict scrutiny. I’ve had various public open battles with various members of this committee about that,” Cummings commented, according to the Evanston Round Table.

“It’s no secret that we try to make sure that even though Evanston has tried to offer restorative justice to a very specific group, it has always been based on a compelling interest of the city and the program has been designed to be narrowly tailored to address that specific harm. So I don’t believe that the Supreme Court’s decision regarding affirmative action will impact Evanston’s work at all. However, for now, that’s yet to be determined. I guess we will see,” he concluded.

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