Posted on February 22, 2024

Race Hardliner Rev Kevin Peterson Demands $15B in Reparations for Black Bostonians

James Reinl, Daily Mail, February 19, 2024

Boston activists have urged the city to lavish $15 billion in reparations to black residents, stoking fears of a potential strain on resources amid cuts for cops and veterans in this year’s budget.

Rev Kevin Peterson, of the Boston People’s Reparations Commission, launched the appeal this weekend, saying the city was ‘built on slavery’ and should now ‘pay back’ black residents.

The sum includes $5 billion in direct cash payments to black Bostonians, a $5 billion investment in new financial institutions and $5 billion to fight crime and improve schools for black kids, the commission says.

Critics of reparations say they’re unfair and costly — the $15 billion is nearly four times the $4.2 billion that Boston City Council voted to cover all services last June.

That involved trimming budgets for cops and veterans, and city tax revenues only appear to be shrinking.

But Peterson, also the founder of the New Democracy Coalition, says officials must ‘fully commit to writing checks’ to compensate black Bostonians as part of a broader reparations package.

‘The wealth of this city was built on slavery,’ said Peterson.

‘The city is responsible to pay back the wealth they extracted free of charge from other human beings who died at some point in the labor for this city.’

Activists would not settle for ‘meaningless rhetoric about equity and diversity in some future time,’ he added.

Money should flow into the pockets of black residents and build ‘new institutions in our community,’ he added.

Peterson is a leading racial justice activist in Massachusetts, including in the campaign to last year rename Faneuil Hall, a popular tourist site that is named after a wealthy merchant who owned and traded slaves.

Peterson speaks as a campaigner — the city created its official Reparations Task Force in 2022, which last met on February 6.

The group is working on a research paper about slavery in Boston; and is set to make recommendations to Mayor Michelle Wu this summer.

Peterson’s request for massive payments comes at a tough time for the national reparations movement.

Cities and counties across the country launched racial justice task forces at the height of Black Lives Matter protests after the police killing of George Floyd in May 2020.

But attitudes have changed and officials are withdrawing support for policies that are broadly unpopular — especially among the non-black taxpayers who would have to pay for them.

California’s black lawmakers last month backtracked on plans to pay $1.2 million to each resident.

They introduced a package of 14 reparations bills that made no mention of cash reparations.

Instead, they called for the state to apologize for its role in slavery, to ban involuntary servitude in prisons and to return property officials had unfairly seized from black families.

Much like cash-strapped California, Boston would struggle to meet Peterson’s demand.

Boston’s budget for Fiscal Year 2024 is $4.28 billion.

City officials only kept it that low by trimming Boston Police Department by nearly $31 million, according to the Boston Herald.

Meanwhile, the veterans’ office budget was slashed by $900,000.

Boston is set to lose more than $1 billion in tax revenue over the next five years thanks to tumbling market values for office buildings in the wake of the pandemic, Tufts University researchers warned this month.

Supporters of reparations say it’s time for America to repay its black residents for the injustices of the historic Transatlantic slave trade, Jim Crow segregation and inequalities that persist to this day.

From there, it gets tricky.

There is no agreed framework for what a scheme would look like. Ideas range from cash payouts to scholarships, land giveaways, business startup loans, housing grants, or statues and street names.

Critics say that payouts to selected black people will inevitably stoke divisions between winners and losers, and raise questions about why American Indians and others don’t get their own handouts.

While popular among black Americans, the other groups who would foot the tax bill are less keen.

Tatishe Nteta, director of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Poll, says support for reparations has cratered from its peak of support among 38 percent of voters after the killing of Floyd.

‘Support for a federal reparations program has declined by 4 percent among all Americans,’ said Nteta

‘Democrats, liberals and African Americans all have exhibited steep declines in their level of support for the program since 2021.’

Advocates of reparations in New York, California, Massachusetts and elsewhere ‘may no longer have a rising tide of public support for reparations behind them,’ she said this month.