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Stabbing raises questions about safety in Moore Square

Posted March 7, 2011

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— A fatal stabbing in Moore Square over the weekend put some visitors to the downtown Raleigh park on edge Monday.

Eric Lee Jackson, 52, was among a group of homeless people waiting in line for free coffee and biscuits Sunday morning when he was stabbed, police said. He died a few hours later at WakeMed.

Leonard Coleman, 62, who police say also is homeless, was charged with murder in the case. He was being held in the Wake County jail without bond.

"It was not a random act. Two men got in a confrontation, and unfortunately, it happened in Moore Square, which is not good for our city," said Capt. Kevin Craghead of the Raleigh Police Department.

Moore Square Stabbing raises questions about safety in Moore Square

The downtown park is surrounded by restaurants, Marbles Kids Museum and Moore Square Magnet Middle School. It's also a gathering place for homeless people seeking services from the Salvation Army across the street and the nearby Raleigh Rescue Mission.

"I wouldn't walk at nighttime down here, not by myself anyway," downtown visitor Jessica Wiggs said.

"It's awful what happened, but I don't feel like it's a daily concern," said GiGi Lee, who said she walks in Moore Square with her granddaughter nearly every day.

Jackson's death was only the second homicide downtown in three years, Craghead said.

Police often have extra officers on patrol in Moore square, especially when church or community groups hand out food, he said.

"We've had some problems policing it, but we've done an outstanding job," he said. "These same people have constitutional rights, and it's our job as a police department, it's our job as a government and it's our job as with community services to recognize that."

Raleigh is working on a planned redesign of Moore Square that officials say will make the park better for all visitors.

Dennis Bullock said he frequents Moore Square, and he said he hopes no one tries to push the homeless out to make the park safer.

"A lot of these people ... can't help the position that they're in. You can't stay in the shelter during the day. You can't hang in the parks. You can't sit in Moore Square. So, where are they supposed to go? Bullock said.

"It just amazes me that it takes someone dying in order for people to worry about people's safety," he said.


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  • Ugum Mar 10, 2011


    If it is your church that is feeding these guys, can you ask the fella in the white Ford F-Series truck to quit parking in the travel lanes and find a real parking spot? He is obstructing traffic.

    Can you also ask them to keep the homeless people from using parked cars are chairs and tables?

  • jaymzclark Mar 8, 2011

    Arguing a point based on anecdotal stories (some people have never had any problems; I’ve been accosted for money several times) ignores the critical issue: what does Raleigh want Moore Square to be? I'm willing to bet money that if you brought in a bunch of tourist & took them down to Moore Square & then took them to the Plaza in Kansas City, the impression of the Plaza would be MUCH better. It’s not about helping the least of our brothers (although I would arguing handing out money helps very little), it’s about creating an urban area that is clean, safe, and inviting for the majority of people to enjoy. It’s not an either/or issue. Raleigh can still provide quality care to its needy citizens without taking away from the attractiveness of recreational or business areas.

  • jackhandey Mar 8, 2011

    medcoder I definitely agree with you on your points. Unfortunately even fixing laziness will not fix the problem. Many who are receiving help and food handouts are simply mentally ill. Not from drug use, not from doing stupid stuff, not from being lazy, they just had bad luck in being born that way. I've seen enough and been in close proximity enough to see this first hand. Sit in Moore's Square and you will see it. Unfortunately Raleigh hasn't or can't figure out that all of the handout/charity sites sit in the darn middle of their revitalization attempts. As marymarg27608 explains... this unfortunate homeless population excels at shutting down any attempts at community improvement or business vitality for an area. I'm sure there is a lot political correctness that has hindered moving all the operations to a different area of the city.

  • medcoder05 Mar 8, 2011

    Everyone that is homeless can go out there and get a job of some kind. I dont feel sorry for them one bit. Young or old people. Depending on people that could be as poor and hungry as they are that are out here working making enough to make needs meet. I dont have extra to help out the ones that sit in the Moore Square and do nothing. No it is not safe or clean. When you are in the elevator or parking lot you may run into a bum peeing or already peed on the ground...it stinks like pee. REALLY people. get over yourself. GET A JOB. You can put the homeless shelter address down as a residence addresss. I heard that at mcdonalds one time. NO EXCUSE for anyone to be able to sit around and taking things from others that are working for the family. I see anyone helping me because i dont make enough...uh my family helps me out. i dont need strangers to give me anything. i dont expects poor peopel to help me out. they deserve what they get. get off drugs and alcohole and see what happens.

  • SinD Mar 8, 2011

    Talk about "survival of the fittest." Now look who has 3 free meals a day and free housing.

  • marymarg27608 Mar 8, 2011

    I have worked downtown since 1992 and they closed down the Hardees and the Wendy's that was on Fayetteville street mall because the homeless were hanging out there. Did it solve a problem? No. They moved somewhere else; I guess to Moore Square. And if you think the homeless are an eyesore here, why don't you go to Fayetteville and Charlotte's downtown areas and see them as well. These are human beings who have serious problems and need help not being hustled off to another part of town or rode out of town on a rail. Help for the least of us is always on the bottom of everyone's list...until we are the ones in need.

  • busterbluth Mar 8, 2011

    thanks agallant80! I live about two blocks from there but walk there all the time and I've never been approached by them.

  • jackhandey Mar 8, 2011

    agallant80, you will like the the new shelter too when you are standing in line on Capital Blvd. Sorry though, they won't have a park to sleep in there.

  • agallant80 Mar 8, 2011

    'Get the shelter moved. The problems it brings to the downtown are the key reason people fear this area. It's been terrible for as long as I can remember. Raleigh downtown is well known by all(including out of state tourists) for this issue. I've talked to folks from California who only remember Raleigh for how creeped out and threatened they felt in our downtown area.'

    Uhmm, I live downtown Raleigh and walk down there all of the time. I have never felt threatened in more square. It is clean and safe, this was just a one off incident.

  • Stormy13 Mar 8, 2011

    THe Church I attend helps to feed the homeless at Moore Square and I have helped serve on several times. Not once haas there been a problem, only worried that we would run out of food. The individuals eating were all very humble and thankful for what was given them. Afterwards they helped clean-up the area. You people who are complaining need to roll up your sleeves and "walk a mile in their shoes", help out in some way, shape or form instead of doing nothing!