Jersey's States Assembly has voted against renaming Trenton Square to Trenton Lenape Square, after a debate on the name's ties to slavery.
Deputy Montfort Tadier’s ‘Jersey and the Slave Trade’ proposition sought to rename the square either Benin Square, or alternatively Trenton Lenape Square, after the Native American Lenape tribe indigenous to New Jersey.
The States eventually voted not to rename the square after the Lenape tribe, though the original proposal of Benin is still up for debate this morning.
An amendment by Deputy Jess Perchard also requested that Black Lives Matter Jersey be the ones to rename the square, and was similarly voted against.
The square takes its name from the New Jersey town of Trenton, which is twinned with St Helier. However, Trenton is named after slave trader, William Trent, which has led to debate over its suitability as a name.
Speaking on why he was suggesting the changes, Deputy Tadier said that if the “conversations lead us to a better place as a community, then I think that has to be a good process to go through” and that “the psychological legacy that has been left by the slave trade has never been dealt with properly in the Jersey psyche.”
Pictured: Constable Simon Crowcroft expressed concern over how the town of Trenton would react to the square being renamed.
Responding to the idea of renaming the square, St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft argued that “Trenton is a place, not a person,” expressing his uncertainty about how the recently-twinned city would “react to the name of Trenton Square being named to something else.
“I don’t understand on what basis what we are doing today will enhance the relationship between Jersey and New Jersey,” the Constable continued, claiming the change would “unpick the good work of the Government of Jersey and the Parish of St Helier.”
In contrast, Black Lives Matter Jersey published their thoughts on the debate beforehand, stating that they thought both of Deputy Tadier’s suggested names had “merit,” and that “it should be noted that the twinning of St Helier with Trenton happened with no consultation with any black islanders… We would suggest this is strange for a parish twinned with a majoritarian black town.”
They added that the change would “allow Jersey to consider the very active role it played in the slave trade, and how, like many British port towns, it benefitted from it financially on the back of African slavery.”
Pictured: One of Deputy Jess Perchard's amendments put forward that Black Lives Matter Jersey should be allowed to rename Trenton Square.
However, the Chief Minister admitted that he “would rather not be debating this subject today, because at the end of the day it’s ultimately not going to benefit many people, if any at all. To be honest I’d rather be having a debate about how we can address current slavery in the rest of the world.”
Recalling Constable Crowcroft’s earlier point, the Chief Minister said he highly endorsed “all the comments made by the Constable of St Helier,” and “that Trenton Square is named to commemorate the twinning of St Helier with the city of Trenton in New Jersey.
“The square’s name doesn’t directly celebrate William Trent and nor can I see how it endorses the historic practice of slavery. It’s a monument to our island’s long standing ties to the state of New Jersey and the increasingly close economic, educational and helpful links enjoyed between St Helier and Trenton.”
Other parts of the amended proposition which were voted against included an audit of place names relating to the slave trade and the establishment of an International Day of Remembrance for the Slave Trade and its Abolition.
The States will vote on the final amendment of the proposition this morning, which concerns a report into establishing a Jersey Equalities and Human Rights Commission, as well as the original unamended proposition.
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