Brandon Johnson

What will Brandon Johnson's Reparations Task Force be asked to do?

The task force will examine the idea of reparations for discriminatory policies that were implemented in Chicago and in the U.S.

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Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson signed an executive order this week establishing a Reparations Task Force, aimed at reversing the impacts that discriminatory policies like Jim Crow and other laws had on Black residents in the city.

Johnson’s executive order allocated $500,000 for the task force, which has one year to evaluate the idea of reparations and identify a strategy for getting those funds to residents or to implement policies.

“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 statement. “In partnership with the Chicago City Council Black Caucus and our dedicated allies, we are continuing to build on the bedrock of my administration to move forward in reconciliation through targeted investments aimed at rectifying decades of deliberate disinvestment in Black neighborhoods and communities.”

According to the press release, the Reparations Task Force will be tasked with strategizing and implementing what it calls a “Chicago Black Reparations Agenda.”

That agenda will be focused on identifying how slavery, Jim Crow laws, and other discriminatory policies in the criminal justice system and in housing have impacted generations of Black Chicagoans, according to the release.

The task force cites disparities in “life expectancy, unemployment, homeownership rates, home value, incarceration and more” as it examines paths forward and a framework for how to potentially implement a reparations program.

During that process, the task force will conduct public hearings and other community engagement efforts to get feedback from Chicago residents on how the program should be constructed, and how previous policies have impacted communities across the city.

At the end of the task force’s work, it will recommend what it calls “appropriate remedies and restitution for past injustices.” City officials say those remedies could include direct cash payouts, but could also include significant policy changes aimed at reversing the damage of discriminatory policies in the city’s history.

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