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2001

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  FEATURE:

Reparations Reparations Reparations:Litigation Putting a Price on Crime Against Humanity



by BlackState.com Copyright 2002 All Rights Reserved May Not Be Reproduced In Any Part Without Express Consent of BlackState.com.

CottonField Reparations Reparations Reparations: Litigation To Put A Price On Crime Against Humanity

First it must be said that in any discussion of race and racism in America, logical reasoning is one of the first things to go. which will explain the immediate reaction of white America’s immediate reaction to the prospects of reparations for black Americans.

Reparations will require acknowledgement that heretofore white America has simply refused to acknowledge, slavery was real, there are descendants of slaves who suffer as a result of the effects of slavery, white Americans held, black Americans as slaves, NO, NO ONE IS BLAMING YOU THE INDIVIDUAL WHITE AMERICAN!!!, NO ONE IS ARGUING THAT YOU OWNED SLAVES OR THAT YOU ARE A RACIST!!! These are undisputed facts:

1. It is a fact that the United States of America was built on slave uncompensated labor;

2. A caste system based on race evolved as a result of that slavery;

3. White skinned persons are at the top of this caste and black is at the bottom (regardless of white ethnicity, regardless of black wealth);

4. The United States economy grew substantially as a result of this unpaid labor and was unjustly enriched;

5. Many Corporations reaped the benefits of unpaid slave labor, and were complicit in the proliferation of the slave industry;

6. Black Americans, suffered through roughly 100 years of de facto slavery in the period between 1865 and 1964 in violation of the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution; Not being allowed to vote despite the 15th Amendment, Being denied basic civil and human rights—wrongfully convicted of crimes, wrongfully executed and terrorized and lynched by white mobs;

7. There is legal precedence justifying reparations: Holocaust Settlement, Japanese detention suring World War II Settlement.

Slavery is arguably the more heinous yet remains uncompensated.
Slavery is a crime against humanity, the conviction from which requires just compensation; slavery has always been a crime against humanity in all forms and though practiced those at the time of American slavery knew or had reason to know of its criminality against humanity. See Thomas Jefferson (The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submission on the other. Our children see this and learn to imitate it; for man is an imitative animal. This quality is the germ of all education in him. From his cradle to his grave he is learning to do what he sees others do. If a parent could find no motive either in his philanthropy or his self-love for restraining the intemperance of passion towards his slave, it should always be a sufficient one that his child is present. But generally it is not sufficient. The parent storms, the child looks on, catches the lineaments of his wrath, puts on the same airs in the circle of smaller slaves, gives a loose rein to the worst of passions and thus nursed, educated and daily exercised in tyranny, can not but be stamped by it with odious peculiarities. "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice can not sleep forever . .) Jefferson

If you recall at the UN Conference on Racism the United States objected to defining slavery as a crime, (perhaps because of the possible legal consequences of such a designation). If it’s a crime then someone is liable and is someone is liable they must compensate for the plaintiffs loss.

Plaintiffs are suing for Unjust Enrichment, Conversion, Human Rights Violations, Conspiracy and Demand for an Accounting. Below find Excerpts of the Complaint Farmer-Paellmann, et al v. Fleet Boston Financial Corporation, Aetna, Inc., CSX et al. filed in the Federal Eastern District Court of New York.

First a few notes: the attorneys naming Fleet Boston Aetna and CSX should also name the U.S. Government (whatever agency that Freedman Bureau and/or the Bureau of Colored Persons became…) The attorneys in the complaint did not here cite but I’m sure will rely on the settlement between the U.S. and the Japanese descendants of WW II “detenetion”, various agreements and settlements with Native American tribal descendants, and the most recent Holocaust class action settlement in which the claims there were similar to this slavery reparations class action. Plaintiffs should also name some of the governments of the European Community and European Corporations as defendants of the European trading companies that profited from the slave trade are still in existence to this day. Maybe plaintiffs can get some other nations affected by the slave trade and ramifications thereof, getting some governments as plaintiffs could bear down international pressure to settle plaintiffs claims as well--like the governments of Brazil, Jamaica, Venezuela, Cuba, Ghana and Senegal.

Excerpts of Farmer-Paellmann, et al v. Fleet Boston Financial Corporation, Aetna, Inc., CSX et al. Over 8,000,000 Africans and their descendants were enslaved in the United States from 1619 to 1865. The practice of slavery constituted an “immoral and inhumane deprivation of Africans’ life, liberty, African citizenship rights, cultural heritage” and it further deprived them of the fruits of their own labor.

The first slave ship that sailed into Jamestown Harbor in Virginia in 1619 contained a handful of captive Africans, but by the end of the Atlantic slave trade, more than two centuries later, somewhere between 8 million and 12 million Africans had arrived in the New World in chains. Historians estimate that one slave perished for every one who survived capture in the African interior and made it alive to the New World, meaning as many as 12 million perished along the way. Slaves built the U.S. Capitol, cast and hoisted the statue of freedom on top of its dome, and cleared the forest between the Capitol and the White House.

Slavery fueled the prosperity of the young nation. From 1790 to 1860 alone, the U.S. economy reaped the benefits of as much as $40 million in unpaid labor.7 Some estimate the current value of this unpaid labor at 1.4 trillion dollars.8 Not only did the institution of slavery result in the extinguishment of millions of Africans, it eviscerated whole cultures: languages, religions, mores, and customs, it psychologically destroyed its victims. It wrenched from them their history, their memories, and their families on a scale never previously witnessed.

When the institution finally ended, the vestiges, racial inequalities and cultural psychic scars left a disproportionate number of American slave descendants injured and heretofore without remedy. Although the institution of slavery in the United States was officially outlawed in 1865, it continued, de facto, until as recently as the 1950’s. National archive records reveal that in the 1920’s and 1930’s, the NAACP still received letters from African-Americans claiming to still be on plantations and forced to work without pay. Several claims were investigated and were found to be legitimate. Moreover, as late as 1954, the Justice Department prosecuted the Dial brothers in Sumpter County, Alabama because they held blacks in involuntary servitude.9 Even for those who were “freed”, their lives remained locked in quasi-servitude, due to legal, economic and psychic restraints that effectively blocked their economic, political and social advancement.

Hence, new measures called “Black Codes” guaranteed control of Blacks by white employers. As John Hope Franklin noted in From Slavery to Freedom: the control of blacks by white employers was about as great as that which slaveholders had exercised. Blacks who quit their job could be arrested and imprisoned for breach of contract. They were not allowed to testify in court except in cases involving members of their own race; numerous fines were imposed for seditious speeches, insulting gestures or acts, absence from work, violating curfews and the possession of firearms. There was of course no enfranchisement of blacks and no indication that in the future they could look forward to full citizenship and participation in democracy…The post-Reconstruction Southern practices of peonage and sharecropping which continued well into the twentieth century were direct outgrowths of slavery that continued a system of complete control by the dominant culture. Peonage was a complex system where a black man would be arrested for “vagrancy”, ordered to pay a fine that he could not afford, and then incarcerated. A plantation owner would then pay the fine and then hire him until he could work off the debt.

Plaintiffs are suing for Unjust Enrichment, Conversion, Human Rights Violations, Conspiracy and Demand for an Accounting.

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