Chicago Suburb Will Use Cannabis Tax For Reparations Fund For African Americans


Final week, city council members in Evanston, Illinois voted to use marijuana sales tax income towards a fund meant to present reparations to its Black neighborhood.

The city council voted eight to 1 to institute a 3 % tax on cannabis sales. The initial $10 million generated more than the subsequent 10 years will go towards a strategy to present monetary sources to Black men and women for a range of utilizes. The strategy is forecasted to produce in between $500,000 and $750,000 a year, and the fund for reparations will also be open to other types of donations.

The strategy is a multi-faceted approach to combat the range of troubles facing Evanston’s Black neighborhood, which has also had to battle historic redlining practices, in addition to higher prices of house tax and racist lending practices.

“This is one thing radical to preserve the Black population,” stated Robin Rue Simmons to the Washington Post of the reparations fund. Simmons is an alderman from Evanston’s Fifth Ward, which has been property to a big segment of its Black residents.

“Our neighborhood was broken due to the war on drugs and marijuana convictions. This is a possibility to right that,” she stated. “Our disadvantage and discrimination has continued beyond outlawing Jim Crow and beyond enslavement.”

Simmons stated the fund will entail direct monetary help to Black men and women and households in matters like subsidizing down payments on a property, technical instruction for job seekers, and property repairs for lengthy-term house owners.

Facts of the strategy will be hammered out at a town hall meeting on December 11.

The sole dissenting vote on the fund from alderman Thomas Suffredin was primarily based on the perceived ambiguity of the fund. “In a town complete of monetary wants and obligations, I think it is poor policy to dedicate tax income from a distinct supply, in unknown annual amounts, to a goal that has however to be determined,” he wrote in a newsletter.

A Continuing Work to Mitigate Racial Disparity

An evaluation of police activity more than 36 months discovered that 71 % of persons arrested in Evanston had been Black and 57 % of citations went to Black residents — even even though they only comprise 16.9 % of the town’s population, according to the most current U.S. Census Bureau information.

It is not the initial time that Evanston has opted to help efforts towards reparations. In 2002, its council unanimously authorized plans to fund a federal investigation into reparations. The council has also produced a position for a chief equity officer, as nicely as establishing a commission on equity and empowerment.

The strategy is primarily based on a provision constructed into the legislation that regulated cannabis in the state this summer time, which prioritized social equity measures for men and women who had been unjustly targeted by war on drugs policing. On a state level, that measure has translated into a program that prioritizes cannabis entrepreneurs of colour, plus these who reside in a geographic region that saw heightened levels of drug war police activity.

Evanston is presently property to a sole healthcare marijuana dispensary, which will transition to turn into a recreational retailer on January 1 when Illinois’ legalization requires impact. If all goes according to strategy, the small business will fund a reparations strategy that could prove influential for other Illinois towns and jurisdictions beyond state lines.

“There’s been nothing at all in location for black persons that have been discriminated against in Evanston,” Simmons stated. “Reparations is lengthy overdue for the neighborhood. It is lengthy overdue for Black persons in the United States.”


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