by Jon Sanders
Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies, John Locke Foundation
The first thing people entering downtown Raleigh see on inbound South Saunders Street is the famous skyline view. Since May 29, however, the very next thing they see is this string of graffiti. Four-plus months of visitors’ first impressions being this farrago of witless Marxism.
Not long after that, they see the boarded-up windows, some of which have been decorated in hopes of protection in the next round of violence and vandalism. Local media and downtown boosters have recently expressed worries that people are fostering a misimpression of downtown Raleigh as a shambles of boarded-up storefronts, which they say is keeping customers away and harming downtown businesses.
Funny, they don’t seem to worry about business survival with respect to Gov. Roy Cooper’s restrictions and impractical “allowances” making it unpleasant and difficult to spend an evening downtown. Nor do they admit concern about repeat performances of violence and vandalism, although there have been several — certainly enough for Raleigh leadership to be better prepared to stop it.
If the focus is only allowed to be on whether people get a bad feeling about downtown from how it looks, you’d think at least part of it would involve giving the remaining downtown business owners the assurance of property protection such that they would be confident to invest in new windows.
But if not, can’t it at least start with cleaning the graffiti off the bridge?