PAUL, Minn. — A group of Black community leaders gathered outside City Hall in St. Paul, Minnesota on Tuesday to criticize the City Council’s hiring of a non-Black aide to staff the city’s new reparations commission.
Hours later, city officials revealed that Jennifer Lor, an Asian American who currently serves as a policy aide for Council Member Nelsie Yang, had withdrawn her name from consideration for the role.
President of the African American Leadership Council Tyrone Terrill said he considered the decision to hire Lor as “total disrespect for the Black community.”
“We’re not going to stand for it,” he declared at the protest.
The protesters were clear that this was not a personal attack against Lor but an important marker for the Black community.
“It’s not about the person,” said Trahern Crews, one of the leaders of St. Paul’s reparations movement. “It’s just that we need somebody who has the lived experience, knowledge of reparations, knowledge of the racial wealth gap, and how it impacts the descendants of slavery who reside in St. Paul.”
Following a yearlong study, the council decided in January it would establish a board that would be tasked with advising city officials on reparations policies and budget matters concerning descendants of chattel slavery in the city of St. Paul.
The initial 11 members of the commission were selected in late June. Lor, had she stayed in the running, would have been considered to staff this collective.