Deadly shooting spurs calls for action to improve southeast Raleigh

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Monday’s police-involved shooting has also called attention to broader issues in southeast Raleigh, including poverty and unemployment.

Community activists say it’s time for the city to focus on this area and provide more opportunities for people living there.

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Just hours after the shooting, several speakers at a vigil Monday night called for change, saying this section of the city is “overlooked.”

Michael Phillips knows there’s a mindset that needs to change.

He says, “Well, southeast Raleigh is always going to be last.”

He lives in southeast Raleigh and also owns Men at Work Car Care Center and the barber shop across the street downtown.

He points out the community has “no economic standing.”

He continued, “We tend to spend our money with someone else instead of empowering each other with it.”

Jarrod Hairston, who’s worked with Phillips for more than a decade, says as development and growth have spread to various parts of Raleigh, it’s not been the same for the southeast section of the city.

“It’s partly the city’s fault too because y’all changing so much in the other parts, why don’t you start here too?” Hairston asked.

Just over half of people in southeast Raleigh live below the poverty line, according to the non-profit Southeast Raleigh Assembly. The group notes unemployment is also “considerably higher compared to Wake County as a whole.”

Phillips has made a point of hiring people who may not otherwise find jobs at other businesses.

“It happened about 30 years ago for myself when I got convicted of selling drugs. Once you get convicted of something you know the plight that other folks go through,” he said. “We just need some more folks, more business folks to give out some opportunities. There are some wonderful guys out here, let me tell you that, some wonderful guys.”

Some of the employees who work at Men at Work recall seeing Akiel Denkins, the man shot by police Monday, at their business recently.

Tony Bradhsaw described Denkins as a “good guy” and hopes his death won’t spark further violence in the community.

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