Oakland to require contractors to disclose ties to slavery

OAKLAND — As lawmakers around the state are exploring potential ways to pay reparations for slavery, Oakland has revived and says it’ll enforce a seemingly forgotten city law that requires certain city contractors to disclose any historic ties to slavery.

The ordinance, approved by a city council 15 years ago, also creates a fund of reparations money that’s supposed to be disbursed to help residents in the city’s poorest neighborhoods. But it doesn’t force companies to put any money into the fund.

It applies to contractors that provide insurance or financial services to the city and to textile, tobacco, railroad, shipping, rice or sugar companies that do business with the city. Those businesses must complete affidavits confirming they searched company records for evidence that they had or hadn’t “bought or sold people subjected to slavery, used people subjected to slavery as collateral, provided loans to purchase people subjected to slavery, insured such transactions or the people subjected to slavery during the slavery era and/or provided related or other services to aid and abet such transactions.”

The affidavit has to include the name of enslaved people and slaveholders in company records and any evidence of business transactions that profited from slavery, according to a memo from City Attorney Barbara Parker, who brought the issue to the City Council on Tuesday night along with council members Larry Reid and Loren Taylor.

Although the ordinance was approved in 2005, there’s no record that it was ever implemented, according to Parker’s memo. There also isn’t any accessible form for contractors to submit or any public information showing whether or how city contractors are complying with the ordinance.

“The City Attorney’s Office has also heard reports that the City Administrator may have waived the requirements of the Ordinance for certain contractors, but that has not

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