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Public pushes for reparations by Buncombe
Saturday, 01 August 2020 15:10

From Staff Reports

Following Asheville City Council’s 7-0 vote on July 14 to give reparations to black residents, members of the public reportedly are putting pressure on the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners to join the city in the historic move.

“In public comments made via email and voicemail, dozens of residents called on the Board of Commissioners on July 21 to join Asheville, which, this month (July), apologized for its role in slavery and discrimination and pledged to invest in education, health care and other areas with racial disparities,” the Asheville Citizen Times reported July 23.

“I urge you to put reparations on the agenda for discussion and to join the City (Council) in this historic movement to dismantle structural racism in our community, and begin to undo the great harm it has caused,” Emma Olson, who works in public health and social justice according to comments read aloud during the board meeting, was quoted by the ACT as saying.

Cathy Holt, also in comments read aloud, was quoted by the ACT as saying, “Without reparations, there’s no economic justice for African Americans, the wrongs of slavery, Jim Crow era disenfranchisement and obstacles to economic opportunity.”

Asheville television station WLOS (News 13) reported that a letter read at the July 21 meeting, signed by more than 20 county residents, wants “leaders to pull funds from the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office and fund reparations, similar to what Asheville City Council is doing.”

Meanwhile, the ACT reported, “Asheville invited other ‘local government community organizations’ to join it. But leaders of nearby wealthy white communities including Biltmore Forest and Montreat said they lack the funds or wanted to wait and see how the city proceeds.”

“There was not a clear majority on the board wanting to take up the issue” on the board comprisd of three Republicans and four Democrats, said Chairman Brownie Newman, a Democrat, the ACT noted. “But at the July 21 meeting, Newman said he was ‘open to county consideration of a reparations policy.’

“At least two other Democrat board members, District 1 Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara of Asheville and District 2 Commissioner Amanda Edwards of North Buncombe, agreed.” Republicans reportedly did not voice their views.

“One whose opposition was notable was Democrat Al Whitesides, the board’s only black member” and “an early Asheville civil rights activist,” the ACT stated, adding that Whitesides said that “the county’s current consideration of a groundbreaking resolution to declare racism a ‘public health and safety crisis’” would amount to reparations.



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