New Security Plans For Trenton’s Art All Night Gallery

From Right: Fire Director Derrick Sawyer, Councilwoman Marge Caldwell-Wilson, Mayor Reed Gusciora, Artworks Executive Director Lauren Otis, and Police Director Sheilah Coley at far left. Photo by Rick Rickman.

With Art All Night this weekend, the City of Trenton has unveiled a comprehensive plan to avoid another mass shooting. Several city officials, including Mayor Reed Gusciora, made the announcement at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

The event will still begin at 3 p.m. Saturday and end the same time on Sunday. But instead of going all night, doors will close at 1 a.m. Sunday morning and then reopen at 7 a.m. 

Police Director Sheilah Coley said this also entails metal detector wands, fencing, and plain-clothed officers. Trenton Fire Director Derrick Sawyer played one of the biggest roles in developing the plan.

The entrance to the Roebling Wire Works Building where Art All Night is held each year. Photo by Rick Rickman.

“For eleven years it was able to run without incident, and then one year we have a terrible incident,” Coley explained. “But now we see we are in a new normal, and this is what large events will look like in the City of Trenton.”

Coley says this new normal will likely extend to National Night Out. In previous years, venues have been spread throughout the city.

“I know some of the residents won’t be happy about it, but safety is paramount,” Coley began. “On National Night Out, we’re used to having several different sites. What I’m looking to do is have one per ward where people can come, so my people can effectively secure the venue.”

Despite the high amounts of security, Artworks Executive Director Lauren Otis says he is expecting a fun time. He wants everyone to know submitting a piece to the gallery is entirely free.

A close up image of the full comprehensive plan. Photo by Kayla Santiago.

“It’s a wonderful art show, a democratic art show of community art,” Otis said. “Everyone gets to submit one piece of art for free. We’ve had hundreds and hundreds of submissions in the past; we expect that this year as well.”

And even though the “All Night” part of Art All Night is not entirely accurate this year, Mayor Gusciora did confirm they could return to the full 24 hour schedule in the future.

“I look at it as a temporary setback,” Gusciora said. “I know Director Coley said if we wanted to do 24 hours, we believe we have the security.”

Almost 30 people were injured at last year’s gallery when neighborhood beef escalated into full blown violence.