L.I. Dems are pushing for slavery reparations

Two Democrats on Long Island are looking to do a study on to pay reparations to black residents whose ancestors were enslaved.

These lawmakers cite a story that California last week recommended that the Golden State spend $569 billion in reparations to slaves’ descendants there, or $223,200 apiece, because of lingering housing discrimination practices.

A previously proposed New York measure called for creating a commission to study the impact of slavery and providing reparations but failed to pass the legislature. It is now being revised, backers said.

“We saw what happened in California. We want to pass a bill that starts a conversation about reparations,” said Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages (D-Nassau), chairwoman of the New York Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, said.

Assemblywoman Taylor Darling (D-Nassau) said it would be a “slap in the face” if Gov. Kathy Hochul and the legislature don’t green-light a reparations study commission.

Darling also scoffed that the $223,000 figure that California’s task force recommended for each black descendant there was too low.

“This country was built on the backs of enslaved people. It has impacted everything — housing, economic development, education.,” she said.

The previously proposed New York bill — which called for the creation of an 11-member commission to study the issue — passed the assembly June 3 in a 104-45 vote but stalled in the senate.

Solages said she and other supporters want the revised bill addressed by Hochul and the legislature before the state budget is approved next year, so that any costs associated with the reparations commission can be included in the financial plan.

Sen. George Borrello (R-Jamestown) said reparations will hurt race relations.

“It’s nothing but a taxpayer-funded giveaway to buy more votes for Democrats,” Borrello said.

He said his descendants and other New Yorkers of recent generations are not responsible for the sins of slavery and that the United States was one of the first countries to abolish it.

“Slavery was evil. We fought a bloody war to end it,” the senator said, referring to the Civil War.

“We need to focus more on everyone having an opportunity.’’

His conservative colleagues in the Assembly outlined their own qualms with the move.

“It avoids the thorny issues, such as how to determine if a person is actually related to a former slave, how much should be paid, whether payment is pro-rated based on percent related to a slave, whether those who came to the US decades later should pay, etc,” said Andy Goodell (R-Jamestown).

There are five types of reparations that will be discussed, according to Solages: direct compensation; restitution of a victims’ rights and property; psychological or mental health rehabilitation; reforming laws to prevent or stop discrimination and a government apology or acknowledgement of guilt for the sin of slavery.

Hochul spokesman Avi Small said of the measure, “Gov. Hochul will review the legislation if it passes both houses of the legislature.”


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