The city of Evanston, IL, has committed to correcting its historical harms with reparations financed by a local tax on legal cannabis sales. Extensive study and advocacy by 5th Ward Alderwoman Robin Rue Simmons and local historian Dino Robinson led to the resolution, first passed in 2019.
As an Illinois township with a population just shy of 74,000 people, Evanston was included in the passage of the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which was put into effect in the state in 2020.
While the Act made adult-use cannabis legal in the town, it didn’t necessarily right the wrongs that had divided it for decades. Alderman Simmons is an Evanston native, and knew firsthand what meaningful change would look like in her community.
A view into Evanston, IL
Though the city takes pride in its liberal Chicagoland culture and enjoys being known as the home of Northwestern University, the Black community of Evanston has traditionally been underserved by its government and police.
According to the ACLU, Illinois ranks 3rd in the nation for racial disparities in marijuana arrests, including a Black-white arrest ratio of over 7 to 1.
70% of the marijuana arrests were made in Evanston’s Black community, even though Black people make up only 16% of the city’s population.
Along with the unjust rates of arrest, the Black community of Evanston has also been subject to discrimination, Black Codes, and estrangement from the city’s economic opportunity.