Detroit voters overwhelmingly pass reparations proposal, but fail proposal that could fund it

Nov 3, 2021 at 11:02 am
Black Detroiters marching for racial justice. - Steve Neavling
Steve Neavling
Black Detroiters marching for racial justice.

Quite possibly the most talked about proposal on the ballot for Detroit’s Tuesday election was Proposal R, which would create a reparations task force that would address the racism that Black Detroiters have long faced in housing and economic development.

While Proposal R passed easily with over 80% of the votes — and more Detroiters turning out to vote for it than anything else on the ballot — Proposal S, which would have amended the city charter and allowed Detroit citizens to vote on how tax dollars are appropriated, failed with 53% voting no.

What does this mean?

In short, just because Proposal R passed and a task force designed to help Black Detroiters will be formed, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the new unit will receive the proper funding. The decision of how funds will be spent stays with the city council, not Detroit residents. Mayor Mike Duggan has opposed Prop S and said the city can’t afford to use its tax dollars on reparations.

"There is no promise of funding or city ordinances that would be established or appropriated after the recommendations of the task force are made," states a report by Citizens Research Council of Michigan, obtained by The Detroit Free Press.

Also, Proposal R did not specify any details outside of the formation of a task force. There isn’t a timeline for the formation of the group or guidelines for who the members will be and how they will be selected.

The city’s next challenge will be sorting out these details.

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