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Politics & Policy

Watch powerful moments from San Francisco’s first big reparations meeting

Supervisor Shamann Walton attends the Board of Supervisors meeting within the Board of Supervisors Chambers at City Hall in San Francisco, on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. | Michaela Vatcheva for The Standard

San Francisco accepted a draft plan aimed at providing its Black residents with substantive reparations Tuesday.

The detailed 60-page reparations plan traces the harm done to the city’s Black community over generations, drawing a direct line from segregation and displacement to disparities we see today in mass incarceration, education and homelessness.

WATCH: San Francisco’s $5 Million Reparations Proposal, Explained

The Board of Supervisors spoke passionately on the subject that caught the ire of right-wing media over findings that $5 million could be paid to qualifying Black San Franciscans. However, the lump sum action of the plan has already been deemed “financially unachievable in today’s world” by Board President Aaron Peskin

Other, perhaps more realistic actions in the reparations plan include supplemental income packages for low income Black households, the creation of a Black-owned community bank, access to financial education, debt forgiveness and fairer access to financing and loans.

READ MORE: Supervisors Review Reparations Plan and Police Business

The delayed reparations hearing took more than five hours and featured presentations by staff from the Human Rights Commission, as well as members of the African American Reparations Advisory Committee. 

Supervisors from across the moderate and progressive political spectrum spoke passionately in favor of a reparations plan, of which the final details are still being ironed out. The Standard has clipped some of the most powerful moments from the meeting to watch below: 

‘Enough Talk’

Rev. Amos Brown said it's time we "do more than just have conversations, we must change our conduct."

The Rev. Amos Brown said that the city should redirect its focus on providing five key elements as part of reparations: education, jobs, housing, health care and a cultural center for Blacks in San Francisco. Rev. Brown also spoke passionately about the need for action, not just conversation about change.

‘Put Your Heart on Top of Your Fist’

Dr. April Silas delivers a rallying cry.

Dr. April Silas, a director of the Homeless Children’s Network, delivered a passionate rallying cry in support of the Dream Keeper Initiative, an ongoing program of investment in the city’s Black community, which was initially funded with $120 million diverted from the police budget in 2020 in the wake of public outcry over the police killing of George Floyd. Breed annualized $60 million in funding for the initiative in 2022. 

‘Not All Summer of Love’

Supervisor Joel Engardio says our city is "not all Summer of Love."

New elected District 4 Supervisor Joel Engardio noted how racist deed covenants in west side neighborhoods prevented Black people, including baseball legend Willie Mays, from buying homes, while white people who bought real estate there during the same period benefited by orders of magnitude.

‘You Cannot Quantify Injustices’

Supervisor Shamann Walton thanked former police communications staffer Supervisor Matt Dorsey for being willing to press ahead with a ballot measure on reparations.

Supervisor Shamann Walton, the only Black member of the Board of Supervisors, told the meeting he wants to achieve reparations in San Francisco in this year’s budget.