No one seems to know who organized the rally at the Loussac Library in Anchorage today, but over 250 citizens showed up after work to protest the mayor’s lockdowns of the Anchorage bars, restaurants, and the Municipal Assembly Chambers itself.
They stood along 36th Avenue waving signs and those driving by honked their horns in support. It was a festive atmosphere, impromptu and loosely organized. Although it was essentially a grassroots resistance, it wasn’t at all an angry Black Lives Matter rally, just a merry group of mandate defiers.
And they broke the law: According to the mayor’s orders, no groups may gather in Anchorage.
Inside the massive building that houses the Assembly Chambers, the Planning and Zoning Commission was meeting, practically in secret. The public was shut out of the meeting, as the public has been locked out of all Municipal meetings for weeks, by order of Mayor Ethan Berkowitz.
Those phoning in to participate could not be heard by commissioners. And when the commission called people to receive their testimony, they couldn’t always get through to the person who had signed up to speak telephonically.
As with the Anchorage Assembly meetings, some who signed up to speak by telephone were simply skipped over when the governing body could not reach them.
The citizens of Anchorage have been relegated to waving signs of protest and writing out their frustration on Facebook.
Alaska has one of the lowest rates of COVID-19 in the country and Anchorage now is among the most locked-down cities in America, with hospital capacity at over half empty.
Earlier in the day, Kriner’s Diner stayed open in defiance of the mayor’s Emergency Order 15, which shut down all restaurants, bars, bingo halls, churches, and city public meetings. Judy’s Cafe also defied the mayor’s orders to close, and the newly opened Bear Paw decided to just say no to the mayor.
Anchorage Baptist Temple is rumored to be ready to defy the mayor’s order to shut down as well, according to an MRAK source, who says she plans to be there Sunday morning.
The emergency orders were given on Friday, when Mayor Berkowitz once again shut down the hospitality industry, including weddings, funerals, and and restaurants. Mostly it’s the shutting down of the restaurants that have upset people. In fact, many of them were packed this weekend as people prepared for a month without being able to get out of the house.
Even former Mayor Dan Sullivan is loaded for bear. He designed a t-shirt that he is selling in cooperation with Dooley’s Athletics that reads, “Never Again – All Jobs Matter.”
Must Read Alaska has learned that an effort to begin recalls of city Assembly members has begun, with tens of thousands of dollars now collected for legal work.
The Assembly voted 9-2 to extend the mayor’s emergency powers through October 16. Assembly members Crystal Kennedy and Jamie Allard voted against it; both represent Eagle River.
Berkowitz has had emergency powers since March, and the Assembly is taking up extremely controversial measures during the emergency lockdown and keeping the public from participating or observing the proceedings while they tackle massive restructuring of services for vagrants in Anchorage.
The Assembly is also considering AO-65, banning certain types of counseling within the city as it pertains to those under the age of 18 who want a counselor’s help with issues involving homosexuality.
The petition to recall Assembly member Meg Zaletel, who favors AO-65 and the mayor’s lockdown of the city, has already begun circulating. Signatures are now being gathered as petitioners go door to door in her district.
Organizers say they will also work to recall Felix Rivera from the Assembly after he has served for his first six months, after which he can be recalled.
Mayor Ethan Berkowitz was nowhere in the vicinity today to greet protesters, but just weeks ago he showed up at a Black Lives Matter protest in Anchorage to speak to the crowd there. While praising them as revolutionaries, he was not wearing a mask: “I look out and I see a crowd full of revolutionaries, and it makes my heart glad,” he bellowed. Roll tape: