Several of the attendees at the California Department of Justice’s final Reparations Task Force meeting created a scene during the public comment section of the event Thursday, demanding reparations from the board.
Several excited California residents took advantage of their opportunity to address the board directly, yelling into the mic that the time for reparations is “now!”
One encouraged the crowd in attendance to raise their fists and chant their desires for restitution, while another stood up and screamed for a “divorce” settlement of sorts between Black Americans and the rest of the country.
The Reparations Task Force meeting this week represented the final one in a series of public events facilitating discussions between California residents and state officials about establishing potential restitution for perceived inequality between African Americans and the rest of America stemming from slavery and centuries of discrimination.
The final meeting occurred just over a month after the nine-member panel officially recommended that California state legislators allocate funds to pay African American residents of the state, according to historical discrimination.
According to the task force’s recommendation, certain qualifying Black Californians could receive up to $1.2 million in reparations.
The task force’s final meeting in Sacramento on Thursday began with a raucous atmosphere as the public comment section — the first portion of the meeting — featured yelling from animated public commenters, one of whom got the crowd into a frenzy.
California Department of Justice member Aisha Martin-Walton introduced the public comment section and called up the first slate of speakers.
The first, a Black woman, began a tense recounting of how her ancestors were never paid back for their enslavement and never benefited “from the promise of America.”
She thanked the task force for their work and praised Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom for having “changed the course of history” by allowing the task force’s work.
The meeting sparked with the second speaker, a Black man named Reggie Romaine, who claimed that what the board had recommended in payments is not enough.
He suggested that African Americans get half the country after divorcing from the rest of America.
He began by saying, “This reparations task force, I appreciate y’all. But you all opened up a whole can of worms. I’m going to tell you this. Reparations is about repair. To me, I qualify. I’m going to tell you how you repair this.”
“First of all America, from the evidence that they gave us, you’re guilty,” he said. “In 1619 we was eating fool food! You kidnapped us! Put a hate crime on us! That’s the first one. Now you came here with all the other atrocities. When you brought us here, you raped our men, women, and kids. So therefore, you married us!”
“Don’t treat us like no cheap piece of meat!” he exclaimed, before pushing for a national divorce. “So therefore, our last name’s ‘American!’ So now’s the time for a divorce! What do you get in divorce? You get half the money, half the land, alimony, child support, attorney fees, and everything else! So that’s what we want!”
The speaker then plugged his website along with something he dubbed the “1619 Party,” which he described as a sort of independent political platform built around providing reparations for African Americans nationwide.
The crowd applauded the impassioned speaker as he walked off.
A subsequent speaker named Donnie Brown got the crowd into the mix.
After remarking that “Today is a day of celebration” and praising the task force, he asked the general attendees of the meeting to stand.
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