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Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson signs executive order for reparations task force

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(CHICAGO) — Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson signed an executive order Monday to establish a Reparations Task Force to develop a reparations plan for the city.

According to the mayor’s office, the task force will conduct a study and analysis of policies that have affected Black Chicagoans from slavery to the present day. Based on this analysis, the task force will recommend remedies to racial inequities caused by such policies.

Chicago has a large Black population, making up almost 30% of the city’s residents.

“Today’s Executive Order is not just a public declaration; it is a pledge to shape the future of our city by confronting the legacy of inequity that has plagued Chicago for far too long,” Johnson said in a press release.

Reparations can appear in many forms, including financial payments, assistance, land restitution, social services, and more, according to the NAACP.

In his executive order, Johnson said the country and city “perpetuated, condoned, profited and benefited” from the system of chattel slavery. He then noted several Jim Crow-era policies from 1877 to 1963 that legalized and perpetuated racial segregation and discrimination.

These policies — including housing discrimination, redlining and highway construction — led to “disparities in life expectancy, unemployment, homeownership rates, home value, incarceration, and more,” Johnson’s office states.

The discussion on reparations has been ongoing — and controversial — in the U.S. since slavery was abolished in 1865. Some opponents of financial reparations say they are too expensive or discriminate against people who are not Black. Some supporters of financial reparations say they can address inequalities caused by discrimination that have harmed families for generations.

Evanston, Illinois — not too far from Chicago — became the first city in the country to fund reparations in 2021, committing $10 million over the next decade to repay Black residents for accumulated losses incurred by generations of housing discrimination.

However, a conservative legal group recently challenged the program in court, claiming the policy “discriminates against anyone who does not identify as Black or African American,” the group Judicial Watch states.

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