Reparations Task Force: What to expect in the Committee’s first report

By Antonio Ray Harvey, California Black Media

The California task force to study and develop proposed reparations for African Americans will submit its first report to the California Legislature in June.

The 13-chapter document will detail the committee’s findings so far and include related recommendations.

Donald K. Tamaki, a member of the task force, said the “full report connects the dots between past racism and its current consequences.” He also inferred that the report presents a “historic opportunity” to shape the national conversation on reparations.

“I believe the report will not only attract publicity from California, but will also be considered nationally,” Tamaki said before the task force approved the report. “With the report, we can reach out to people to develop an ally and (generate) support for it.”

As mandated by Assembly Bill (AB) 3121, the report will establish how California laws and policies have disproportionately and negatively affected African Americans. The report will be made available to the public.

The Civil Rights Enforcement Section of the California Department of Justice (DOJ) formulated the document based on hearings, expert testimony, and evidence accumulated since the panel’s first meeting on June 1, 2021.

One of the DOJ’s jobs is to facilitate the task force’s consultation with various experts on California history and reparations. The department also provides administrative, technical and legal assistance to the panel.

The preliminary report opens with an introduction that leads to chapters focusing on slavery, racial terror, and the disenfranchisement of political rights, among others. It also covers a range of topics documenting historical injustices suffered by Black Americans, including housing segregation, separate and unequal upbringing, environmental racism, and more.

Headlines such as “Pathologizing the Black Family”; “Control of spiritual, creative and cultural life;” “Stolen work and hindered opportunity;” and “An Unjust Legal System,” among others, frame the testimonies and historical accounts recorded during the working group meetings.

Task Force Chair Kamilah Moore wrote the foreword. Its introduction is an overview of the working group’s activities over the past year.

“This interim report will list all of the damages that we have discussed throughout these two-day virtual meetings since June of last year,” Moore said in an online chat on the Blk TLK platform in April. “It will also contain preliminary recommendations for legislation to be adopted.”

The first report was overseen by Michael Newman, Senior Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Enforcement Section (DOJCRE) of the California Department of Justice (DOJ).

The working group voted to describe the first presentation, the “interim report”.

Tamaki said about 10 DOJCRE attorneys — including Deputy Attorney General Xiyun Yang, DOJCRE legal assistant Francisco Balderrama, and other DOJ staff created the report.

In a collaborative effort, the diverse DOJCRE team, Newman added, consulted with the working group to determine changes, make clarifications in terminology, modify corrections and implement recommendations.

“It was a labor of love for everyone who worked on it,” Newman said at the task force meeting held in San Francisco on April 14. “I also want to thank all the members (of the working group) and the contribution of the community in producing an incredible record.

California’s AB 3121, enacted in 2020, created the nine-member task force to investigate the history and costs of slavery in California and the United States. AB 3121 directs the Reparations Task Force to study the institution of slavery and its continuing negative effects on black Californians who are descendants of enslaved people in the United States.

The group is charged with studying and developing remedial proposals for African Americans and recommending appropriate ways to educate Californians about the task force’s findings.

After the task force ruled on March 30 that bloodline will determine who will be eligible for compensation, the panel approved a framework for calculating how much should be paid — and for what offenses — to people who are black descendants of slaves. in the USA. .

A team of expert economists has identified 13 categories that would form the basis of the method used to calculate damages and determine what constitutes harm and atrocities. A second report is expected by July 2023, when the task force’s two-year tenure is expected to end.

Members of the task force include Moore, a Los Angeles-based attorney, reparations specialist and activist; Vice President Dr. Amos Brown, a respected Bay Area civil rights leader and pastor whose journey to leadership began under the tutelage of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s; Cheryl Grills, professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles; and Lisa Holder, a nationally recognized lawyer.

Rounding out the panel, Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena); Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles); San Diego Council Member Monica Montgomery Steppe; Dr. Jovan Scott Lewis, chair of the geography department at the University of California at Berkeley; and Donald Tamaki, Esq. is an attorney best known for his role in the reopening of the Supreme Court’s Korematsu v. United States case, which led to the overturning of the conviction of Fred Korematsu who refused to be taken into custody during the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II. .

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