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What we are witnessing in our communities and downtowns is a powerful call for change. Violence, inequality and injustice against the Black community must end. Trenton Downtown Association (TDA) understands and appreciates that there are challenging and uncomfortable questions that are being raised as we battle through the impact of the pandemic and now also face the heightened - and at times violent - response to systemic racism. At the outset, TDA admits that it does not have all the answers. But it does have its observations and its intent on a path forward.
1. Above all else, Black Lives Matter. We must hear and acknowledge the voices of those who have been calling for justice for generations. No one should have to prove their humanity.
2. TDA's constituents include landlords, businesses, nonprofits, government workers, non-resident consumers and every resident who lives within our district, many of whom are Black.
3. What is harmful to any one of our constituents is of concern to us as an organization, and should be to every member of our community.
4. TDA supports - in small part - the cleanliness and safety of the downtown area. In response to recent events, we have been working on plans to enhance the safety of downtown Trenton, including the safety of our residents.
5. TDA has historically worked in close cooperation with both the State and Trenton Police Departments. We will build upon these relationships to ensure that everyone is treated with respect and dignity.
TDA stands in solidarity with the Black community and in particular the residents of the downtown. The time is now for all of us to be part of the change to end systemic racism, racial terror and discrimination in the pursuit of a more just and equitable future.
Our community is in pain, but it is also strong and resilient. And we see signs of hope everywhere we look, from our local police officers taking a knee alongside peaceful protesters to our residents and staff working alongside each other cleaning up in the early hours of dawn following the unfortunate looting last Sunday.
We don't have to tell you how devastating it has been to see so many small business owners, already struggling to survive the global pandemic, suffer such extensive property damage. We hear their voices, too. TDA's mission is to support the businesses that keep our community alive. They are the heart and soul of downtown Trenton.
For the past several weeks, TDA has been working to establish a grant program to help eligible businesses in downtown Trenton hurt by the coronavirus shutdown. We are now looking to extend that support to include businesses with property damages. We will be announcing more details soon.
There is much work to be done and some very tough questions to answer. We must follow this path together to arrive at solutions that improve our community and the Black lives within it. And we must do so with empathy and action.
Willard A. Stanback
Trenton Downtown Association