Dallas Commissioners Mistakenly Back Reparations for Blacks

In a unanimous vote, the commissioners voted to back reparations for slavery, but later they said they didn’t know what they were voting for because they hadn’t read the resolution.

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Commissioner John Wiley Price

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Here’s something you don’t see every day.

On Tuesday the Dallas County Commissioners Court voted in favor of giving African Americans reparations for slavery—but didn’t quite mean to do so, the Dallas Morning News reports.

According to the news site, the resolution, written by the only black commissioner in the county, John Wiley Price, was dubbed the “Juneteenth Resolution,” and several other commissioners admitted to not reading up on it before they cast their vote.

However, having realized what they did, most of them did not bother to change their vote, calling it symbolic.

“I am leaving my vote the way it is,” County Judge Clay Jenkins told the Morning News. “This is the body’s expression of support for unity towards people, a recognition of Juneteenth.”

The only Republican in the court was also the only one to change his vote to an abstention. “The reason why I didn’t abstain this morning is that I had not received a copy of the resolution,” he said.

But Price had read the entire document aloud for all of the commissioners, who clearly were not paying attention—many on their computers or sifting through other documents—thus allowing the final declaration of the resolution to go unnoticed:

“‘The United States of America is derelict in its promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to the African American people,’” Price read. “‘Be it further resolved that the dereliction that has caused 400 years of significant ... suffering to the descendants of those who have been enslaved Africans who built this country, should be satisfied with monetary and substantial reparations to same.’”

Nonetheless, although the resolution is officially the county’s stance on the issue, it is nonbinding and allocates no tax money to any initiative. It does, however, serve as a stark lesson for the commissioners.

“I want to encourage staff to make sure that all of the commissioners have the opportunity to actually read what they are voting on before [they] vote in the future,” Jenkins said.

Read more at the Dallas Morning News.

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