FIRST ON FOX: Millions of dollars in COVID-19 relief funds from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) helped create a “reparations” commission that is pushing for a bail bond fund and K-12 curriculum reform, among other measures, to address systemic racism experienced by people of color in Providence, Rhode Island.
The ARP Act, which Democrats passed in March 2021 without any Republican support, was billed by the Democratic Party as an economic necessity for getting the country through the COVID-19 pandemic. Economists on both sides of the political aisle have since blamed the $1.9 trillion bill for overheating the economy and contributing to the current inflation crisis.
After $166 million in ARP funds was awarded to Providence, Democratic Mayor Jorge Elorza signed a budget ordinance into law this year that funneled the majority of those funds – over $123 million – into categories that center racial “equity and resiliency” due to the “disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on vulnerable and frontline communities,” according to the Providence Rescue Plan website. Elorza’s budget allocated over $13 million specifically toward “racial equity” and $10 million of that went toward creating the Providence Municipal Reparations Commission.
In August, the reparations commission released a report with a list of recommendations for the $10 million budget, but it stopped short of recommending cash payments to residents of color impacted by slavery, as reparations are typically defined. Instead, it said reparations are any measures that close the “present-day racial wealth and equity gaps.”
President Joe Biden signs the American Rescue Plan, a coronavirus relief package, in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, March 11, 2021, in Washington.
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
BIDEN’S ARP FUNDS WENT TO TRANSGENDER STUDIO THAT TEACHES EXERCISES TO DEAL WITH ‘WHITE PEOPLE’S BULLS—‘
“A racial wealth and equity gap refers to the income disparity in the assets of typical households across race, ethnicity, and class,” the report stated.
In order to help close the gap, the report recommended that the city issue a formal apology for slavery, create a bail bond fund to “reduce unjust pretrial detention for African heritage and Indigenous people,” and expand the Providence Guaranteed Income program, which makes no-strings-attached, $500 monthly payments to low-income residents.
$15 MILLION IN AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN FUNDS WENT TO ‘ANTI-RACISM,’ ‘SOCIAL ACTIVISM’ PROGRAMS FOR KIDS
Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza at Spaziano Elementary School in Providence, RI on Sept. 13, 2020.
The commission also demanded that the city decriminalize disorderly and indecent conduct and open container violations, and to “discharge all municipal court debt for African Heritage and Indigenous
people one year old or greater as of the issuance of this report and continue annual discharge until systemic reforms to increase accessibility to and engagement with municipal court are enacted.”
The proposed budget includes an allocation of $50,000 toward creating a public K-12 history curriculum based on the city’s report that spurred the commission’s creation, titled, “A Matter of Truth,” which addressed “institutional and systemic bias and racism” affecting people of color in Providence.
$825K IN AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN FUNDS WENT TO ‘ORAL HISTORIANS’ RESEARCHING ANTI-RACISM, ‘LATINX’ HISTORIES
The budget also includes $250,000 to “invest in and develop African heritage and Indigenous-owned media firms.”
(L-R) Providence, Rhode Island, Mayor Jorge Elorza; Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; and Anaheim, California, Mayor Tom Tait participate in a meeting about immigration during the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ 86th annual Winter Meeting at the Capitol Hilton January 25, 2018 in Washington, DC.
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Elorza has already followed through on several of the proposals. In August, he extended the Providence Guaranteed Income program another six months, and he signed an executive order constituting a formal municipal apology for “African enslavement, urban renewal policies and practices and acknowledgment of the harms to African Heritage and Indigenous communities caused by racial discrimination.”
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“Two years ago, we began meeting with Black leaders to advance a social justice agenda in Providence, centering voices of community members who deserve to be engaged in policy decision-making,” Elorza said in August. “I thank the Municipal Reparations Commission for their community-driven approach to making these recommendations, and outlining a path forward for the City and external institutions. While we know the City cannot advance this work alone, my team and I look forward to working with all stakeholders to put recommendations into action to close the racial wealth and equity gap.”
On Sept. 29, the Providence City Council Finance Committee approved the reparations commission’s $10 million budget proposal. It will now go before the full council and requires two votes to pass.
The mayor’s office, which oversees the commission, did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s requests for comment.