Raleigh leaders recap residents' concerns at meeting

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A full room came to discuss community concerns with Raleigh leaders.

Raleigh city leaders have been hosting what they call "Community Conversations" since November. Mayor Nancy McFarlane said 2016 was a difficult year for Raleigh. She said several incidents strained the relationship between the community and police. One of those incidents was the police-involved shooting of Akiel Denkins.

READ MORE ABOUT THE AKIEL DENKINS CASE HERE

City leaders said they wanted to hear direct and honest dialog from residents to effect meaningful change. They planned two citywide meetings and then five meetings in every district of Raleigh.

On Tuesday night at the Raleigh Convention Center, city leaders hosted what they called a wrap-up session to hear from residents again and go over what they heard from residents in past meetings.

SEE THE KEY THEMES FROM THE COMMUNITY MEETING (.pdf)

The long list of concerns ranges from racial inequities in the city, wanting more racial diversity in the Raleigh Police Department and among election leaders, to inadequate transportation and the need for affordable housing.

One of the top demands is a citizens review board to oversee the Raleigh Police Department. This is something the Police Accountability Community Taskforce, or PACT has also requested.

"Part of what PACT has presented in the past is something that we don't have the ability to do," McFarlane said. "Of course, laws in the state of North Carolina are different so we're looking at other cities that have them and seeing what works and what doesn't."



She said even behind closed doors that is an ongoing conversation.

After voicing the need for that review board and other items on the list compiled after seven meetings, some residents said they felt hopeful, while others remain cautiously optimistic.

"I am a little bit more encouraged, I feel like maybe we're getting closer to some solutions," said Geraldine Alshamy, a Raleigh resident who has been to all but one of these community meetings.

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Many residents voiced concern that these conversations will be just that and worry they won't see any real action. McFarlane warned that action on a number of the issues addressed can take time.

"The first thing we do is we sit down and really go through all of what we heard and figure out what can we do," the mayor said.

One issue she did remind the crowd that they have already seen movement on is with transportation. She said a tax increase voters approved last fall will be used toward improving transportation across the county.

READ THE TRANSIT TAX STORY HERE

She hopes improving transportation and accessibility will have a trickle effect to other changes residents want to see.

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