lawsuit filed by a conservative activist group claims a Chicago suburb discriminated against residents who are not Black when it paid nearly $5 million in reparations to some Black residents in recent years as a part of an ongoing program.

Evanston, Illinois, in 2021 became the first city in America to offer reparations to Black Americans, including descendants of Black residents who lived in town between 1919 and 1969 when the city banned housing discrimination. The program has provided 193 residents subjected to discrimination with $25,000 each in housing relief.

Reparations are a form of financial compensation paid to a group of people who have been wronged.

The town’s staff has vowed to fight the new legal challenge. In an email to USA TODAY, Cynthia Vargas, the city’s communications and engagement manager, wrote that Evanston “will vehemently defend any lawsuit brought against our City’s reparations program.”

People who support reparations, including a large majority of Black Americans, say Black descendants of people enslaved in the U.S. should be compensated for financial losses brought on by slavery and decades of institutional racism and discrimination.

What does the lawsuit claim?

The lawsuit, filed by the national nonprofit American conservative activist group Judicial Watch, alleges a number of complaints about the town’s reparations program, including a claim that it violates the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. It was filed on behalf of six people who do not identify as Black or African American and whose families lived in town between 1919 and 1969, the claims reads. The group filed the lawsuit on May 23.

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“The Evanston, Illinois’ ‘reparations’ program is nothing more than a ploy to redistribute tax dollars to individuals based on race,” wrote Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, in a news release on the group’s website. “This scheme unconstitutionally discriminates against anyone who does not identify as Black or African American. This class action, civil rights lawsuit will be a historic defense of our color-blind Constitution.”

Judicial Watch has also filed lawsuits against other cities for programs that benefit people of color and LGBTQ+ people.

A Black Lives Matter sign hangs in front of the First Congregational Church of Evanston UCC on March 23, 2021 in Evanston, Illinois.

Where else are reparations being paid?

Other cities that have committed to grant reparations to Black Americans include Asheville, North Carolina, Durham, North CarolinaAmherst, Massachusetts and Providence, Rhode Island.

State lawmakers in BostonCaliforniaPhiladelphiaNew York and elsewhere have formed commissions tasked with addressing reparations in recent years. In January, California introduced a set of several bills in a first-in-the-nation package to address reparations.

‘Failed promises’:Black Californians may soon get reparations. What would they be owed?

Where do Americans stand on reparations?

The latest research from the Pew Research Center on Americans’ sentiment on reparations shows a majority of Black Americans support reparations while more than three-quarters of white adults and a majority of Latinos and Asian Americans oppose reparations for Black Americans.