Lawmakers in a Chicago suburb have approved using sales tax revenue made from recreational marijuana purchases to establish a reparations program in the area, the Pioneer Press reported.
Evanston, Ill., aldermen voted for the program – which will provide training for jobs and other benefits – as a way to help the city’s black population stay in the town. Evanston’s black population decreased from 22.5 percent of the population in 2000 to 16.9 percent in 2017.
Ald. Robin Rue Simmons, who proposed the reparations bill, told the Press that the move will “directly invest in black Evanston,” and the money will be invested in the community that the “war on drugs … unfairly policed and damaged.”
Under Illinois state law, recreational marijuana dispensaries will become legal next year.
Ahead of the change Evanston lawmakers voted 8-1 to permit, tax and appropriate the money made from the marijuana sales to pay for the program that they say will help address the lingering institutional effects of slavery and discrimination.
The new fund will be capped at $10 million, and estimates project the new tax could rake in $500,000 to $750,000 annually.
Whether the United States should make reparations to the descendants of slaves is a national conversation and one of the key platforms of author and spiritual adviser Marianne Williamson‘s 2020 presidential campaign, but those that support it have seen few moves to make it happen.
There is no clear consensus for what form reparations should take and who or what should provide them.