OAKLAND — Alameda County supervisors want reparations for African Americans, saying it will help address the legacy of slavery, including how police interact with people of color.
On Tuesday, supervisors unanimously adopted a resolution that said the county “apologizes and expresses remorse for the slavery, segregation and discrimination of African Americans and further pledges to address the legislative, social and economic inequities faced by African Americans.”
The board also called for residents, law enforcement and organizations “that have advanced and benefited from racial inequity to join us in apologizing for our shared role and complacency” and urged them to support policies and funding for “community reparations.”
The resolution did not include any recommended financial compensation from the county for reparations.
“We are not talking about mailing out a whole bunch of checks,” said Supervisor Nate Miley, who called for the resolution with Supervisor Keith Carson. “It’s a whole slew of things that could be in an action plan that could be developed.”
Supervisor Wilma Chan said she campaigned to get compensation for Japanese-Americans who were interned during World War II following the attack on Pearl Harbor. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act, legislation that offered a formal apology and paid $20,000 in compensation to each surviving internment victim.
Any monetary reparations for Blacks would have to come from the federal government, Chan said.
Carson said the resolution was an effort to resolve racial divisions, while Miley said it could be used as a springboard to create new policies.
“We need to do this amongst all of us, acknowledging and understanding each other,” Carson said.
Miley noted in a letter to the board that in June 2011, supervisors formally apologized to Black people for enslavement and racial segregation.
The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Oscar Grant during encounters with police — cases that have led to civil unrest and public dialogue on how law enforcement deals with Blacks — underscore the need for more outreach, including for reparations, Miley said in the letter.
“The more we put these things out in the open, the more we accept responsibility for history,” said Supervisor Richard Valle.
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