Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson is seeking to tackle crime and violence in the city. While implementing various policies to address this problem, Johnson argues reparations could be part of the solution. He is dedicating resources and a task force to explore the possibility of reparations for slavery, making Chicago the latest U.S. city to join the reparations debate.

The Daily Mail reported that Johnson’s 2024 budget for Chicago includes $100 million dedicated to reducing violence in the city, which has seen murders decline in recent years, but property crimes like robbery and car theft have increased. The budget also contains $500,000 earmarked for a Commission on Restoration and Reparations tasked with examining whether the city could implement a reparations policy for slavery and what such a policy might look like.

The outlet mentioned Johnson’s Dec. 27 appearance on CNN This Morning, where he discussed the committee’s creation as part of an overall approach. 

“In order for us to have a better, stronger and safer Chicago, it really requires the full force of government,” he said when discussing the city’s new budget. He explained the $500,000 allocated “for restoration and reparations to address again, the cycle of violence, which looks like school closings, closing of mental health facilities, of which I’ve invested in now.” He framed the policy as part of an effort to address the community’s needs with other policies, such as a new government office to facilitate reentry for formerly incarcerated individuals.

Johnson announced last year that he intended to create a reparations task force for the city in 2024, reviving a push for reparations that arose in Chicago after George Floyd’s 2020 murder but failed to produce tangible results. Reviving the reparations discussion is part of Johnson’s overall progressive agenda that he has promoted since his May inauguration. For example, under Johnson’s leadership, the city has taken steps to reform the public school system toward more emphasis on neighborhood schools and less on selective enrollment schools, even as some argued for keeping the selective option for talented students. 

The efforts toward reform, violence reduction and racial justice come as Chicago faces various interrelated challenges. The city has a shortage of affordable housing that has been made more severe by the arrival of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers, many from Latin America. His efforts also join a growing push to achieve reparations at the state and city level. As national efforts toward reparations continue but face stiff opposition, states like California and New York are exploring reparations options, and cities like Atlanta and San Francisco are either investigating or implementing policies.

It is too early to tell what will come of Chicago’s newly forming reparations task force. However, the creation and funding of the committee in one of the nation’s largest cities shows that momentum toward reparations continues, and it represents a unique way for Chicago to continue to tackle its challenges.