Kim Hammer, a Raleigh business owner, fought back tears Tuesday as she described working downtown in recent months.
She described teenagers beating up and robbing homeless people to audible gasps from audience members during a City Council committee meeting about downtown safety.
“My staff has been spit on. My staff has been thrown up against glass windows. My staff has been sexually groped. My staff has been threatened with bricks, and they have had their lives threatened on a regular basis,” Hammer told city leaders. “This is a daily thing. It’s incredible stressful. We can’t take it any more.”
“This is not normal,” she said. “This is not Raleigh.”
Hammer, who owns Bittersweet and Johnson Street Yacht Club, was one of a handful of downtown business owners and residents asking the city for help with violence, drug deals outside their doors and human feces on their property.
“You read the emails, but when you hear the stories in person, people sharing their fear and emotion, it is really gut wrenching,” Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin told The News & Observer in an interview Tuesday afternoon. “That is why we are doing what we’re doing in terms of increasing our policing, talking about private security, you know, getting those resources on the ground so we can make a difference.”
Two areas highlighted by Raleigh Police Chief Patterson in her presentation to city leaders were Glenwood South and the “business core,” bounded by Lenoir, Salisbury, Person and Morgan streets and including Moore Square.
In the Glenwood South night life district, the chief wants to expand the unit that oversees the area, encourage business owners to use magnetometers to weed out people carrying guns and improve lighting on Glenwood Avenue and it’s side streets.
“The concerns from business owners are valid and the Police Department is doing everything it can to come up with solutions to address their concerns,” Patterson told reporters after the meeting.
“Our city is growing,” she said. “You’re seeing our population almost at half a million now. With that growth comes growing pains.”
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.