St. Paul looks to create permanent slavery reparations commission

City Council President Amy Brendmoen said a public hearing on the proposed ordinance will be held Wednesday, Dec. 21.

About 300 people gathered outside the Minnesota Capitol building in June 2020 to demand reparations. (Fibonacci Blue/Flickr)

The city of St. Paul continues to move forward with its goal to create a permanent commission on reparations for the descendants of slaves.

On Wednesday afternoon the St. Paul City Council gathered for one of its regular meetings, where the agenda included the first reading of a proposed ordinance that would establish the St. Paul Recovery Act Community Reparations Commission.

The reading comes six months after a special reparations committee, formed to “make significant progress toward repairing the damage caused by public and private systemic racism in the City of Saint Paul,” presented its recommendations in a document for the council.

According to the document, the committee requested the formation of a permanent reparations commission to “support the creation of generational wealth for the American Descendants of Chattel Slavery and boost economic mobility and opportunity in the Black community.”

Following remarks from the committee organizer, council member Jane Prince praised a “grassroots effort” for getting the ball rolling on the idea of slavery reparations, and then appeared to trumpet the inevitability of the commission’s approval.

“This came forward from a grassroots effort and has reached the point two years later where we are on the verge of passing an ordinance,” she said. “It can happen in St. Paul, and I’m very proud of that.”

Nelsie Yang, another council member, also expressed delight about the “community-driven” nature of the idea of reparations.

“Just to think about the pathway of this, being such a grassroots effort and how it blossomed into being a policy, is so incredible,” she said. “And I feel like that’s just one of the many ways in which policy is made, and I love that this is so community-driven, it is so community-rooted …”

City Council President Amy Brendmoen said a public hearing on the proposed ordinance will be held Wednesday, Dec. 21. Council procedures dictate that ordinances can only be voted on after readings at three separate council meetings.


Evan Stambaugh

Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.