Activists Upset as Black Family Sells ‘Reparations’ Land Back to Government
Activists are upset that the Bruce family, which received oceanfront property last year that was unjustly taken from its forebears by the government, has now sold it back to Los Angeles County for $20 million.
As Breitbart News reported in 2021, the story of the Bruce family was a compelling case for restitution:
The owners, Willa and Charles Bruce, purchased the land in 1912 and created a beach resort catering to black clients before the city used eminent domain to seize the property.
The land was dormant for decades until the city built a park in 1960 and later renamed it Bruce’s Beach. Descendants of Willa and Charles Bruce sued, claiming the eminent domain program was racially motivated.
The land was seized by the city of Manhattan Beach, then transferred to the state, then to Los Angeles County.
Finally, in 2022, the land was returned to the descendants of the Bruce family in an emotional public ceremony.
However, the New York Times reports, the family then decided to sell the land back to the county, given the difficulty of developing the beachfront property, and the fact that the asset could be turned quickly into cash.
That has left some activists disappointed, and has complicated the debate about broader racial reparations:
The Bruces’ decision to sell has stirred fresh debate about the goals and methods of reparations, just as those efforts have been gaining traction at universities and local governments.
Activists who had helped the Bruces secure the land, and other observers, were disappointed that the family decided not to hold onto it and try to reclaim the vision of their ancestors.
“Say it ain’t so,” Tavis Smiley said on his radio show. “It was the quintessential example, to my mind at least, of how reparations should work. And many of us were heartened by this rare public example of government doing right by Black folk.”
The activists apparently fail to distinguish between reparations for past wrongs in the abstract, and restitution to account for specific damages to specific people, in this case the racially-motivated seizure of private property.
California and some local governments — including the City of San Francisco — are currently debating reparations for slavery, even though California was not a slave state and entered the U.S. as a free state in 1850.