The proposition was lodged by Deputy Montfort Tadier, who called on Treasury Minister Susie Pinel to request the government-owned Jersey Development Company to rename the area Benin Square – after the African country that was exploited during the slave trade. The item was defeated by 42 votes to three. The three were Deputies Tadier and Geoff Southern and Senator Sam Mézec.
He also lodged an amendment calling for the area to be renamed Trenton Lenape Square in reference to the ‘Lenape’ people who previously occupied the area which became New Jersey when it was taken by King Charles II and given to former Bailiff George Carteret. That item was defeated by 32 votes to 15.
Trenton Square was unveiled at the International Finance Centre in 2019 as part of efforts to strengthen ties between Jersey and New Jersey – the capital of which is called Trenton. The name was called into question as the city was named after William Trent – a prolific slave trader.
Constable Simon Crowcroft, who unveiled Trenton Square alongside Trenton Mayor W Reed Gusciora, warned fellow States Members that supporting the proposition could threaten relations between St Helier and Trenton and Jersey and New Jersey.
‘It is a pity that neither Deputy Tadier or Deputy Perchard [who amended the proposition] did not pause for a moment to ask themselves what effect this proposition might have on the development on these cultural links – especially as the Assistant Minister for Culture,’ he said. He added: ‘[The proposition] as amended or not should not be supported, as to do so would show a serious lack of courtesy on the part of this Assembly as well as a lack of perspective.’
Meanwhile, Deputy Russell Labey supported Mr Crowcroft’s remarks, labelling the proposition ‘ill-researched’ and ‘dangerous’.
He said: ‘How will the message be received if we strike out their name? It could be really damaging. It could make the people living there feel as if they should be ashamed to be living in a city called Trenton.’
Deputy Tadier also lodged an amendment which included the establishment of a memorial to acknowledge Jersey’s role in the slave trade. It was defeated by 33 votes to 13.
He also lodged amendments calling for 23 August to be marked as International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, which was narrowly defeated by 24 votes to 20. The establishment of an Equalities and Human Rights Commission, part of his original proposition, was also lost.
Meanwhile, Deputy Perchard lodged an amendment calling for Black Lives Matter to enter into consultation with the community to provide an appropriate name for the square, which was defeated by 34 votes to 12.