Reparations Advocates Rally At Governor Hochul’s Office Demanding Signing Of Reparations Bill

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New York, NY  –  Gathering in front of the East 40th Street NYC office of Governor Kathy Hochul, on Monday, October 20, 2023, a focused crowd of people, that included NYS Assembly Member Michaelle Solages, NYS Senate Member Jabari Brisport, a spokesperson with Party for Socialism and Liberation, clergy, former NYS Assembly Member/ NYC Councilman Charles Barron, and others, presented the demand for New York’s governor to immediately sign the Reparations Bill that has been sitting on her desk since June 2023. 

We are disturbed that nearly five months after the State Legislature passed this historic Bill, we are forced to wage a campaign to have Governor Hochul actually sign it. That the Governor has chosen to ignore this bill, which simply sets up a Commission to explore remedies for the damages caused by New York State’s little-known involvement in the slave trade, slavery, and its post-Civil War attacks on the human rights of its Black residents, is an insult to the state’s Black community and its elected representatives.” said Colette Pean, a member of the December 12th Movement.  Ms. Pean added, “The Governor’s continued refusal to sign the Reparations Bill reflects her loyalty to racist interest groups and that African Americans only matter to her when it comes to election time.

For those tracking this issue, the steady increase in people calling for such compensation, particularly since the 2001 United Nations World Conference Against Racism, in Durban, South Africa, is evident. The world conference declared both the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery as crimes against humanity.

New York State Assembly Member Michaelle Solages, stated, “We stand here in front of the governor’s office with a loud cry for her to sign the bill to create a commission on reparations. To me, this is such a small ask and for us to be standing here and even having to make this request is an insult to the Black community. This is just a study bill.” Assembly Member Solages elaborated, “We have done many studies. We’ve studies so many different issues – we even studied salt on road and that wasn’t controversial. But we’re talking about a bill that would lead the way to providing economic benefits to communities. A bill that would empower individuals, that would educate individuals and would provide access to adequate healthcare to individuals…and we got to make a hard push. That doesn’t make any senseWe have many people and legislators here in New York that support reparations. Let’s look at it as a vision to improve communities – to give back what is owned to us because we were bought and sold. We have been at the brunt end of so many points of slavery and its legacy, so it’s just right Governor Hochul for you to sign the bill today.” 

Hundreds of years of oppression from slavery to Jim Crow to red lining to mass incarceration and all we are asking the governor to do is to take a pen and sign the bill. It’s not a complicated bill. It says that there will be a commission, what they will study, it says what the commission’s composition will be…there must be some community members in that composition so all she has to do is sign the bill. The Democrats had unanimous votes in support for the bill – to do right by descendants of enslaved Africans. Thus, for this governor to holdup and delay this bill is just ridiculous.” said New York State Senator Jabari Brisport.

The December 12th Movement is an organization which opposes the violation of human rights of African people, nationally and internationally. The organization emerged from the protests against police brutality throughout New York State in 1987. It has been regular participants at the United Nation’s human rights mechanisms in Geneva, Switzerland for over 30 years, and were the key organizers of the first national reparations rally held in Washington, D.C. in 2002.

NYC Council Member Charles Barron, said, “All across the country people are rising up and dealing with the question of reparations. Across the world, in the Caribbean and on the African continent people are talking about reparations. And now in New York City, which was the second largest slave holding city in the union, second only to Charleston, South Carolina. Reparations should be for everybody. There are 2 million Black/African people in the New York City and 3 million Black people in the whole State. Reparations should be for every last one of us as we deserve reparations.”

This is an international struggle for African descendent people for all that we are owned for the hundreds of years of stealing our labor to build up every major institution in the western world and the United States. The insurance industry built by slavery, the shipping industry built by slavery, those deep broad financial markets on Wall Street and in London and Paris that they always talk about…built by slavery. Wall Street was a slave market. By the early 1700s, about 42% of every household in New York had slaves!” stated

Eugene Puryear, of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Mr. Puryear further declared, “For the governor to not sign this bill within the next hour will put a black mark of immorality on her soul that can never be erased because she chose to side with the legacy of the slave owners and not the legacy of the enslaved people.”

 Others attending this rally and press conference reflected the rather diverse support, in terms of age, ethnicity and gender, that the issue of reparations is garnering in New York. The tone of urgency from those gathered was felt from their chants of “THEY STOLE US! THEY SOLD US! THEY OWE US! REPARATIONS NOW!”

At the time of this news article being prepared, no notice of Governor Kathy Hochul’s decision to sign the bill had been received.

Roger Wareham, Esq., said, “This campaign to confront Governor Hochul’s allegiance to racism and opposition to signing the reparations bill will continue with a community forum on Black Solidarity Day Monday, November 6, 2023.” The Black Solidarity Day event will be held at New Canaan Baptist Church 228 Putnam Avenue (between Bedford – Nostrand Avenues) in Brooklyn, New York.

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