LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The NuLu Business Association responds to a list of demands made by protesters last week and welcomes a conversation with protesters to achieve change.
Protesters blocked East Market Street to hold a block party on Friday. Before the Louisville Metro Police Department arrested dozens of people, protesters handed out lists of nine requests to each company. These demands include adequate representation of the black population in Louisville by having a minimum of 23% black staff and a minimum inventory of black retailers. The requests came with a deadline of August 17, otherwise protesters would respond with negative reviews and social media posts about the companies.
“Many of us have embraced not only the protests in downtown Louisville, but also the protests across the country calling for change,” said Rick Murphy, president of the NuLu Business Association.
But Murphy said no one from the group that made the roster or from Black Lives Matter approached the association until Friday. While he disagrees with the approach of making demands, he agrees that more can be done in the business community with regard to the fight for justice.
“I hate the word demands,” Murphy said. “It’s bullying, it’s mean. We look at what they gave us as goals. I do not accept requests from anyone. No one can demand anything from me, especially if it accompanies that demand with some kind of threat or harm to business. Right now is not the right time to try to hurt businesses. “
Murphy said he invites any protester or organization to join the conversation with the association, as the board has already started making changes weeks before the protest hits NuLu. Three weeks ago, the council approved the creation of a social justice committee.
“And that’s specifically for the purpose of attracting black-owned businesses and encouraging black employment,” Murphy said. “The concept of what the protesters are asking for is quite reasonable in terms of creating goals for our neighborhood.”
By creating the new committee, there will also be a vacant position on the board of directors who will chair the committee. The intention is for this new member to be a person of color.
“Putting black members on our board is something we can do. And we had already planned for this position three weeks ago, ”said Murphy.
Murphy said the association is also expected to provide inclusion and awareness training to member companies. The list of requests included a bunch of suggestions for this type of training, and Murphy said it’s very helpful to have these resources now.
Protesters chose the NuLu neighborhood to fight gentrification. Protesters said the shutdown of the Clarksdale housing project gave way to the business district, but Murphy denies it.
What is now the NuLu area was block after block of vacant buildings in the 90s. The association was formed in 1992 by private business owners to revitalize the East Market Street corridor, and it has been done. without any state or federal funding, Murphy said. He added that the Association had never been involved in the expulsion or displacement of anyone. And currently, if a developer wants to build a residential property in NuLu, the Association requests that a percentage of low income units be included.
Several business owners told WDRB News that they are open to further suggestions for change. Many are already selling products and artwork made by black vendors and are actively seeking more suppliers and artists.
For there to be real change, Murphy said NuLu would need support as well. After suffering a financial blow as the convention center was closed for two years and now with COVID-19, business owners are barely holding on. In order to support the black community, the business community must survive.
“They’re hanging by a thread,” Murphy said. “What’s important is the civil discourse, working together and acting together is how change happens. It doesn’t happen through bullying. This is my biggest comment. Work together, not against each other.
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