LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Aug. 17 is the deadline set by a group of protesters for NuLu businesses to sign a contract with a list of demands in support of Black liberation and social justice.
Protesters claim those businesses benefited from gentrification of the neighborhood when residents in the former Clarksdale housing units were moved out years ago. So where do the business owners stand?
Some have signed the contract or say they are willing to sign, while those who oppose signing the contract said they felt the demands were a threat. Those owners decided not to speak on the record after seeking legal advice.
“They’re very concerned,” said Metro Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith, who represents the district. “A lot of people are very upset.”
The contract followed the July 24 NuLu protest. The demands include, having a minimum of 23 percent black staff representation and monthly donations to local black organizations. Sexton Smith said there’s a lot of confusion, as well as a difference between gentrification and revitalization.
“The business owners that I’ve talked with have said, ‘I wasn’t part of any type of folks moving out or folks moving in,‘” Sexton Smith said.
While some businesses said they felt many demands by the protesters are reasonable like diversity training, others said they were offended by being graded on the site called You Can’t Stop the Revolution. Many business owners said they were given an F rating before they had a chance to respond, and complained there’s no point person to talk to, only a mysterious e-mail address.
Revelry Boutique Gallery responded to its F rating on social media, pointing out how the business is inclusive in many areas. Other owners said threats of demonstrations or social media blasts if they don’t sign the contract is extortion, and said they can’t legally hire someone based on race.
“What am I willing to do, to be anti-racist against anyone and then put that energy into figuring that out,” said longtime community activist Marta Miranda-Straub.
Miranda-Straub, who’s not affiliated with the protest group, said it’s a conversation that needs to happen and some action must follow.
“We don’t have to agree on everything, but we do need to agree on being an anti-racist business, an anti-racist cabinet, and anti-racist city period, because that’s the right side of history,” she said.
Friday, WAVE 3 News was able to reach a group organizer who agreed with what Miranda-Straub and said steps are in motion to meet with business owners and hopefully work out a compromise. The organizer said the conversation is part of the goal. A date for that meeting hasn’t been set.