A San Francisco community activist is slamming a proposal from a city task force that recently recommended the payment of reparations to the city’s black residents, a plan with a total price tag of more than $112 billion.
The city’s African American Reparations Advisory Committee released a draft proposal recommending that city officials make a lump sum payment of $5 million to black residents who meet certain requirements.
Activist Richie Greenberg is not just blasting the proposal, but has also created the website rejecttheplan.com to push back against city officials that he says will be violating the law and creating a “neo-apartheid state” if the payments are issued.
“The scourge of Apartheid under a racist regime was wrested from South Africa due to a global effort exposing inhumane and unjust policies,” he said in a statement. “Boycotts and embargoes worked. Condemnation by world leaders, artists and performers, the media and multinational corporations, the economic and cultural isolation effort took down the minority White government starting in 1990.”
Greenberg continued, “Now comes a plan, put forth by a group of Black individuals to impose a new Apartheid via institutionalized racial preference and segregation, but instead of in some far away country, they seek minority rule in San Francisco with the Draft San Francisco Reparations Plan (‘The Plan’). It is astonishingly racist and must be rejected.”
Shamann Walton, who serves on the city’s Board of Supervisors and wrote the legislation that formed the task force, argues that the payments are a “minuscule” number when considering other research that has been done over the last few decades.
“I don’t think you can put a figure to taking someone from their country, raping and pillaging their communities, not allowing them the chance to reproduce, not allowing them the chance to raise a family and grow wealth, making them work for free,” he said.
“In San Francisco, black families were not allowed to be taught, but we still had to pay taxes for the education of white children,” Walton added. “I would say that black neighborhoods and communities were created here in San Francisco without the benefit of representation. I would say that there were racial restrictions indoctrinated in city policy that said black people couldn’t buy or lease property.”
However, Greenberg notes that the proposal for race-based payments by the government is a violation of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and California’s Proposition 209.
“The Plan specifically violates law through policies of racial segregation, for example: Establishing and perpetually subsidizing Black business hubs with Black business grants; creating Black community spaces, Black school curriculum, a Black bank, a Black health care system with Black doctors and nurses, an entire separate community with the city, managed and operated by a Black committee, paid for by resources of San Francisco’s 95% non-Black majority community,” Greenberg explained. “This is completely absurd, racist and unlawful.”
San Francisco’s proposal is part of a growing movement seeking to study the issue of reparations.
The State of California’s nine-member reparations task force released a 500-page interim report recommending a package totaling $569 billion, though legislators admit it will never pass. Boston’s City Council voted in 2022 to form a committee to study the issue of reparations. And in 2021, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee advanced a proposal by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat, to study reparations.
Supporters of reparations plans rarely specify where the funds will come from and often avoid conversations on the impact such large programs will have on inflation.