San Francisco’s landmark hearing to discuss reparations for the city’s Black community has been postponed by more than a month because Supervisor Shamann Walton took a nearly weeklong vacation to party in Colombia and is experiencing flight issues getting home.
Tuesday’s reparations hearing had been almost two years in the making after Walton authored a resolution in early 2020 for San Francisco to study harm done to the city’s African American community. A committee was formed, and it has met more than a dozen times since February 2022. The board and members of the public were scheduled to discuss a plan from the committee that has numerous suggested steps to implement reparations.
Walton, who is the lone Black member of the Board of Supervisors, told The Standard in a text message that he went to Colombia for a birthday trip. He posted a picture on his Instagram account Sunday at a Hooters restaurant in Medellín. The Standard captured a screenshot before it disappeared.
Walton said he went on the trip because a group of friends all have birthdays in close proximity to one another.
“Our flight was delayed on Copa Airlines, and we couldn’t make the connecting flight,” Walton said in a text message. “This is not a delay for reparations. The final report is due in June. Most certainly, I have no control over the airlines and flight delays.”
Walton’s office said he began the personal trip last Wednesday and was scheduled to return in time for Tuesday’s meeting. However, he planned to miss Monday’s meeting for the city’s Rules Committee, of which Walton is one of three members.
Rev. Amos Brown, who served as one of the 14 people on the African American Reparations Advisory Committee, was shocked to learn the reparations hearing was being delayed by Walton‘s vacation to another country.
“I’m stunned,” Brown said in a phone interview.
He added, “Well, still, there need to be reparations for the people’s sake. The Black population in this county is on life support.”
Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin filled in for Walton at Monday’s meeting. Peskin said he became aware that his colleague would miss Tuesday’s reparations hearing as well after he texted Walton on Monday morning to discuss the plan for the hearing.
“I was informed he was not able to get back to San Francisco from Colombia on time because his flight was canceled,” Peskin said.
Despite the delays caused by Walton’s vacation, it appears the reparations hearing could have taken place sooner than next month but was delayed further by the supervisor’s own wishes.
Emails between Walton’s office and Peskin show that the board president offered up Feb. 21 for a special meeting or a regular meeting on Feb. 28.
However, Walton apparently preferred to avoid calling a special meeting and his staff instead suggested waiting until mid-March, which could end up delaying deliberations on another matter involving law enforcement.
The city's reparations hearing is now scheduled for March 14.
Josh Koehn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org