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St. Paul City Council plans to establish commission for reparations

Trahern Crews addresses the St. Paul city council (Elijah Todd-Walden/BLCK press)

The St. Paul City Council held a public hearing on reparations for Black residents of St. Paul Wednesday. A dozen community organizers, faith leaders and professors came to give their testimony in support of the resolution.

The Council had previously established an advisory committee, which presented a report last June outlining its recommended approach for the city to “address the creation of generational wealth for the American Descendants of Chattel Slavery and boost economic mobility and opportunity in the Black community.”

Trahern Crews and Vic Rosenthal, two members of that original committee, were present at the public hearing.

When addressing the council, Crews encouraged the City Council to “continue to unapologetically lead on this issue.”

“You guys are setting the example for the rest of the country with what you are doing here,” Crews said.

Crews outlined the harm that the state of Minnesota has caused the descendants of slaves, through the founders of the state being engaged in the slave trade to the demolition of the Rondo community to build Interstate 94.

“The policies and procedures and laws that were [put in place] since Ramsey County was founded in 1849 harm people that society fears most,” Crews said, “and the people society fears most look like us, like Desiree Collins, Breanna Taylor, George Floyd.”

People from the Rondo community were present to give their testimony as well, including Rev. Carl Walker, a founder of the Walker|West Music Academy.

“I can say for a fact that this is a great undertaking. It needs to be done. We have paid dearly for what we have [gone] through,” Walker said. “I’m a strong believer that it’s time for us to do the thing that is right.”

Walker’s comments drew applause from the community members present. None of the council members present expressed a dissenting opinion.

Council member Jane Prince said that it is important for the community to hold the council and the legislature accountable for ensuring that the commission stays on track, and that the council is working with “the corporate community, the academic community and the religious community” to move forward.

The City Council plans to vote to establish the commission on Jan. 4, 2023, and will begin hiring positions for that commission soon after.

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