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States Reject Trenton Square Name Change

An attempt to rename Trenton Square as either Benin Square, Trenton-Lenape Square, or one chosen by Black Lives Matter Jersey to acknowledge the island's links to the slave trade has been rejected by the States Assembly.

Reform Deputy Montfort Tadier also proposed:

* Asking the Chief Minister to commission a report into erecting a permanent memorial 

* Asking the Chief Minister to commission an audit of all place names and memorials relating to former slave traders in Jersey

* Marking 23 August annually as International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

* Asking the Chief Minister to commission work on an Equalities and Human Rights Commission in Jersey

They were all rejected by the assembly.

The island's links to the slave trade have been a topic of debate amongst islanders this year following the Black Lives Matter movement, with protests across the world after the death of George Floyd in the US.

Hundreds of islanders gathered at People's Park in Jersey earlier this year to kneel for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, which was the length of time that Mr. Floyd was pinned to the ground by a police officer, who has since been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter.

Protests continued across the world, with focus in Jersey drawn to the Sir George Carteret statue, given that he traded slaves in the 17th century.

It was after anti-racism protesters tore down a statue in Bristol of Edward Colston - a slave trader - and threw it in the harbour. The Sir George Carteret statue has also been vandalised, with paint thrown over it.

Deputy Montfort Tadier said approving his proposition was a great opportunity to develop links with Benin, and come out with a fairer society, more openness, and more equality.

"We are still dealing with the consequences of the slave trade today because the colonial project hasn't been fully dealt with in the British or I would say the Jersey psyche.

"It hasn't been dealt with because we haven't taught it, we haven't understood it and therefore, I think we do need to deal with it.

"That part of the journey starts with being honest and actually telling the whole story."

The Reform politician also defended himself from criticism from the Chief Minister that he was allegedly picking and choosing 'specific aspects of individuals’ characters in such matters'.

"The Chief Minister saying nut you know these people (in Haiti, which was the first country to abolish slavery) did bad things so it just goes to show that Deputy Tadier is being selective in his arguments.

"I think is not true and it smacks a bit of being petty because it  misses the bigger picture of what we're trying to do here, which is to set the framework to what kind of modern society we want to live in."

The Trenton Square name was suggested by Constable Simon Crowcroft and opened in 2019.

The St Helier politician said changing the name as Deputy Tadier proposed would 'show a serious lack of courtesy on the part of this assembly as well as a sad lack of perspective'.

"Deputy Tadier claimed in a text message to me and I quote: 'My ideal is that you accept the Trenton-Lanape on the basis that it does not affect your twinning but would enhance it. Nothing in this is done to undermine your links with Trenton, but to bolster them'.

"I don't know on what basis Deputy Perchard (who suggested Black Lives Matter put a name forward) or Deputy Tadier believe that their progetes will have no effect on St Helier's twinning.

"Imagine if you will the reaction here and in Madeira if we change the name of Rue du Funchal for whatever reason."

The row between Deputy Tadier and Constable Crowcroft continued throughout the debate, with the Constable disputing Deputy Tadier's suggestion that he has refused to meet Black Lives Matter Jersey and said only when Trenton New Jersey change the name of its capital, would he be interested in changing the name of the square.

Deputy Tadier then hit back and said the Constable misunderstood and reversed the point he was making - as he was not trying to lecture New Jersey or question New Jersey's record.

Deputy Russell Labey also spoke in the debate and said while Deputy Tadier is doing a good thing, what was missing from his proposition was authentic voices.

"Trenton New Jersey is 52% black or African American, 33% Hispanic or Latino. Where is the consultation with BLM Trenton New Jersey or the African American Chamber of Commerce New Jersey or the 100 Black Men Society of New Jersey?

"There are no authentic voices, there doesn't seem to be any consultation with people who it would be interesting to hear from."

You can see how politicians voted by clicking here.

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