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Judicial Watch sues for records about Reparations Program in Illinois

Released by Judicial Watch:

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the city of Evanston, Illinois for records about its controversial, taxpayer-funded “reparations” program (Judicial Watch v. City of Evanston (No. 2021 CH 01761)). 

On March 22, 2021, the Evanston City Council adopted Resolution 37-R27, authorizing the implementation of the Evanston Local Reparations Restorative Housing Program and Program Budget. The program allocated $10 million to provide $25,000 to Black/African American individuals who are either Evanston residents or direct descendants of Evanston residents to the exclusion of all other residents or direct descendants of residents.   

Concerned that this program violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution as well as other state and federal laws, Judicial Watch opened an investigation into the program and requested information under the Illinois FOIA. Specifically, Judicial Watch requested:   

A. Records identifying discriminatory housing policies and practices that the Restorative Housing Reparations Program seeks to remedy;  

B. Records identifying the ways in which the Restorative Housing Reparations Program will remedy discriminatory housing policies and practices;  C. Records identifying all methods of remedying discriminatory housing policies and practices the Evanston City Council examined before enacting the Restorative Housing Reparations Program;  

D. Records identifying all reasons why the Evanston City Council enacted the Restorative Housing Reparations Program instead of any alternative method of remedying discriminatory housing policies and practices; 

E. Records relating to the development of criteria by which recipients of Restorative Housing Reparations Program funds will be selected;  

F. Records identifying the ways in which providing Restorative Housing Reparations Program funds to the selected recipients will remedy discriminatory housing policies and practices; and 

G. Records relating to any other discrimination of any kind, regardless of racial group, the Evanston City Council considered remedying as part of the Restorative Housing Reparations Program or any other proposed reparation programs.

After Evanston officials failed to search for and provide the requested records, Judicial Watch sued in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois.

“A government program that provides taxpayer money to individuals based on race plainly violates the law,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The City of Evanston is unlawfully hiding records about its extremist reparations program that will spend tax dollars in a racially-discriminatory manner.”

Judicial Watch’s Illinois lawyer is Christine Svenson of Svenson Law Offices in Chicago, Illinois.

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