by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
You’ll have to deal with a paywall to read the whole thing, but downtown Raleigh business owner Rick French offers a good firsthand account of the impact of weekend rioting and looting.
Here’s a taste:
Saturday night I witnessed the worst of humanity. Sunday morning I saw the very best our community has to offer as hundreds of volunteers came out to sweep up broken glass, hand out food and bottled water, and help us pick up the pieces from a night that none of us who operate businesses in downtown Raleigh will ever forget.
For the past 23 years I have run French/West/Vaughan — a highly acclaimed global public relations, public affairs, advertising and digital media agency — from our offices on East Hargett Street. I own our headquarters building and have invested millions of dollars in its art inspired restoration. It’s a beautiful, century old building that is often photographed by national magazines to show how far Downtown Raleigh has come in its renaissance.
As I sit here Monday afternoon, it is entirely boarded up, with its windows shattered and horrible graffiti painted on the side of the building, which my team has been scrubbing away.
My story is the story of so many of us who have invested our hearts, our energy, our talents and our resources to make Downtown Raleigh a better place for our community, And my heart breaks today for all of our businesses who are dealing with the aftermath of this weekend’s senseless riots and looting in Downtown Raleigh and elsewhere throughout our community.
Our business community had endured a lot the last few months and many of our restaurants and bars – businesses that really can’t operate remotely during the pandemic – now face an even larger existential crisis than the question of whether 50% capacity or take-out service only can keep them afloat. As do our downtown retailers and grocers, who had most of their inventory stolen or set ablaze.
We elect our Mayor and hire our Police Commissioner to make smart decisions in times of crisis and this weekend we saw a lack of good decision making from both.