Our community and nation are experiencing tremendous sadness, anger, frustration, and fear. For the past few days, thousands of people have come to Downtown Raleigh to peacefully protest and grieve the all-too-familiar injustice against people of color in this country. Unfortunately, their message has been hijacked by individuals who came downtown intent on violence and destruction. Downtown has suffered significant damage, as a result, including broken windows, looting, graffiti, and fires. Compounded by the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 crisis, Raleigh, like so much of this country, has many people and businesses deeply affected and hurting right now.
At the same time, we have seen great unity and hope throughout our community as people have come together in selfless ways and in common humanity to support one another and make their voices heard. On Sunday morning, hundreds of volunteers showed up with brooms and buckets in hand, just to help any way they could. After a sleepless and terrifying night, the sight of those volunteers was incredibly powerful and emotional for us at DRA; it signified such love and community. We have received hundreds more offers of support from donations of supplies and services to simple reminders that Downtown Raleigh is still the heart of this city. Those offers have been enormously helpful and very much appreciated.
Over the past three days, DRA's staff has worked tirelessly to keep our stakeholders informed, coordinate hundreds of volunteers across downtown, help businesses find resources for their immediate needs such as plywood or cleaning or food. We have been in constant communication with City of Raleigh staff, elected officials, Raleigh Police and other emergency services to keep them updated and aware of needs and concerns. Much of our team has stayed in downtown throughout the recent crisis and will continue to support the downtown community of large and small businesses, services, and more than 10,000 residents, whose safety and security we want to ensure during this challenging time.
Many of you have asked how to help. For near-term and immediate needs, follow our social media where we will update the community on the needs of the downtown community, as we did Sunday morning with volunteer and service needs. But in the longer term, we encourage everyone in this community to do two things:
- First, listen to those peacefully protesting. Examine the biases that exist in all of us and commit to continued and real action toward a more just society.
- And second, for Downtown Raleigh, we want you to know that we need you. All of you. We need you to come together like you did on Sunday. Be ready to support this downtown and its people and businesses for many days and weeks to come. It will take all of us working together to recover from these crises.
- Bill King, DRA President and CEO