Gov. Hochul signs bill to create commission to study potential reparations for Black New Yorkers

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, December 19, 2023
Hochul signs new legislation establishing commission to look into reparations
Anthony Carlo has more on the new legislation.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- In an effort to acknowledge the horrific injustices of slavery and its continual impact across generations, Governor Kathy Hochul is taking measures toward racial justice by looking into potential reparations.

On Tuesday, Gov. Hochul signed a legislation to create a commission to study reparations for Black New Yorkers.

A nine-member commission will be tasked with studying the effects of slavery and make non-binding recommendations on reparations.

This group consists of three members appointed by the governor, three by the Assembly and three by the Senate.

Gov. Hochul says this is all in an effort to "right the wrongs" of history.

"Today, we are continuing our efforts to right the wrongs of the past by acknowledging the painful legacy of slavery in New York," she said. "We have a moral obligation to reckon with all parts of our shared history as New Yorkers, and this commission marks a critical step forward in these efforts."

The bill was signed to a round of applause at the New York Historical Society and comes after it was passed 41-21 in the senate and 106-41 in the assembly in June.

Legislation S.1163-A/A.7691 acknowledges the significant role the institution of slavery has played in the establishment and history of New York and will see the community commission examine "the lingering negative effects" of both "the institution of slavery" and discrimination with the goal of issuing issue a report comprised of recommendations for appropriate action to address these longstanding inequities.

The commission will issue recommendations in the next two years that "may include compensation" but can also include statutory and policy.

Slavery was made illegal in New York in 1827, but supporters of the bill say a racial wealth gap persists today.

White families in the state have a median net worth almost 15 times that of Black families, according to a recent report by Comptroller Brad Lander.

The new commission will have broad latitude to study the link between historical racism and current disparities in housing, policing, income and incarceration.

For those who doubt racism exists today, Gov. Hochul pointed to the racially motivated Buffalo mass shooting in which a white gunman Payton Gendron allegedly had written on his gun "here's your reparations when he shot and killed ten Black New Yorkers in May 2022.

The Reverand Al Sharpton says the creation of this commission is not about writing a check, but about starting to heal the scars.

"I want to give credit to this governor for having the audacity and courage to do what others wouldn't do," said Rev. Sharpton.

The commission will be convened within the next six months, and after that they'll have a year to draft a report.

From there, the legislature can act upon the recommendations.


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