Chicago Suburb To Give Reparations To Black Citizens By Taxing Marijuana

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Phillip Nieto Contributor
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The city of Evanston, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, is drafting up a plan to tax the sale of marijuana to fund reparations for black citizens, the Washington Post reports.

The city council passed a measure 8 to 1 on November 25 to appropriate 3% of the tax revenue from marijuana sales for a reparations program for African Americans over the next ten years, setting the cap at $10 million, according to the Washington Post. Marijuana for recreational use will become legal in Illinois on January 1st. (RELATED: Here’s Where Each 2020 Democratic Candidate Stands On Slavery Reparations)

“Our community was damaged due to the war on drugs and marijuana convictions. This is a chance to correct that,” Robin Rue Simmons, an alderman of the Evanston’s Fifth Ward, said to the Post. “Our disadvantage and discrimination has continued beyond outlawing Jim Crow and beyond enslavement.”

She added, “This is something radical to preserve the black population and let the black community know that we see the flight.”

CHICAGO, IL – NOVEMBER 25: Demonstrators confront police during a protest over the death of Laquan McDonald on November 25, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Small and mostly peaceful protests have sprouted up around the city following yesterday’s release of a video showing Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting and killing 17-year-old McDonald. Van Dyke has been charged with first degree murder for the October 20, 2014 shooting in which McDonald was hit with 16 bullets. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

WaPo notes Illinois legalized recreational marijuana in June with a “social equity provision” that would favor giving licenses and clearing criminal records in areas of the city where lawmakers believed people were “disproportionately affected.”

The marijuana tax is expected to bring an annual revenue of $500,000 to $700,000.

Simmons told the Post that she would like to see that money go directly towards Evanston’s black citizens. Possible examples she mentioned included helping black families pay for a down payment on a house, funding technical training for African Americans, and bankrolling repairs for historically black-owned houses.

“This is in response to the continued impact of Jim Crow. From the war on drugs, to mass incarceration, to the academic gap, the wealth divide, the opportunity gap, the achievement gap, it is all based on race,” Simmons said.

She went on to claim that city officials from across the country have reached out to her regarding the tax on marijuana.

“Local government is more nimble and more in touch with residents,” Simmons said. “They are my immediate neighbors. Most of us that serve in local governments are speaking from our perspective of lived experience.”