Apr 17, 2023 - News

Detroiters say a debt is owed in first Reparations Task Force meeting

Photo illustration of an abstract collage of a Black hand holding a pen, a redlining map of Detroit and a sign for I-375.

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photos: National Archives via Mapping Inequality, Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The city's 13-member Reparations Task Force met for the first time last Thursday for a discussion centered around the debt owed to Black residents after decades of racist policies and practices that followed the Jim Crow era.

The intrigue: The body didn't make any concrete decisions in its first meeting, but outlined procedural matters and set the tone for the process expected to be complete next year.

  • The body isn't subject to the Open Meetings Act, but members said they plan to follow it.

What they're saying: "We are not here to decide in isolation what is needed," task force co-chair Lauren Hood said. "We are stewards of this process."

  • Khary Frazier, founder of Detroit is Different, called for taxing developers to help pay for the program during public comment. The stated goal of spurring the local economy when dishing out tax incentives to billionaires could be achieved through reparations, he said.
  • Many public commenters brought up a need for compensation over mortgage foreclosures caused by over-taxation and mismanagement from the city.

What's next: Members couldn't agree to a regular biweekly date to hold its future meetings and will next meet on April 28 to further discuss its options.

  • Last week's meeting was held at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center downtown, but there are plans to hold them at different locations around the city.
  • The task force says it will provide recommendations to the City Council no later than 18 months from the date of its first meeting — October 13, 2024.
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