St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones signed an executive order to establish a volunteer panel that will determine the degree to which black residents of St. Louis have suffered from racism. The stated goal of the committee is to explore the history of "race-based harms" in St. Louis and reveal the "present-day manifestations" created by said history.
As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, Jones came to the conclusion that the panel was needed after a “growing tapestry of equity-based analyses” shed light on the city's history of violence, segregation, and exploitation that she says has left it as one of the most divided cities in the country.
“I look forward to reviewing this commission’s work to chart a course that restores the vitality of Black communities in our city after decades of disinvestment,” the mayor remarked in a statement. “We cannot succeed as a city if one half is allowed to fail,” she declared.
The Democrat mayor had previously pledged to use federal pandemic aid to repair black neighborhoods, but has not given any recommendations as to how the panel should address the issue. Jones instead gave what she felt were previous examples of reparations in the United States, citing Japanese internment and survivors of a massacre in Florida who were given money and a had a scholarship fund set up.
The mayor also pointed to Evanston, Illinois, which offered upwards of $25,000 per eligible household for home repairs or down payments on property.
In her statement, the mayor cites a definition by national reparations advocates that reads, "According to the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA) reparations is defined as 'a process of repairing, healing and restoring a people injured because of their group identity and in violation of their fundamental human rights by governments, corporations, institutions and families.'”
The volunteer panel will start holding meetings in 2023 and has no stated deadlines for recommendations, as Fox News reports. The panel will consist of nine people and will require at least one attorney, one clergyman, a public health professional, a professor from a local college, and one person age 15-18.
Jones is a member of the pro-reparations group "Mayors Organized for Reparations and Equity" founded by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. The group includes mayors from Sacramento, Denver, Austin (Texas), St. Paul (Minnesota), and more.