By SCOTT LEVESQUE
Hundreds gathered outside the Loussac Library on Tuesday afternoon to protest two proposed ordinances: AO 2020-65, prohibiting “conversion therapy” for youth in Anchorage; and AO 2020-80, an attempt to limit police use of force.
Protesters began to converge on the library around 4 pm, armed with clipboards, signs, and recording equipment. A staging area near the flag poles, in front of the library, was assembled as Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA filled the air.
As rain continued to fall, some protesters gathered under a tent to sign a petition requesting public access to the Assembly Chambers, which have been locked to the public all month.
Assembly member Jamie Allard made a point to attend tonight’s rally before the Assembly meeting.
Chants of “Jamie! Jamie! Jamie!” echoed as Allard made her way toward the crowd. Allard engaged the group, greeted those in attendance, and listened intently as many voiced concerns over the night’s Assembly agenda.
Allard had another reason for her appearance tonight: Introducing Dave Bronson, who declared his candidacy for mayor of Anchorage in front of the rain-soaked crowd.
The announcement received thunderous applause as many group members revealed signs promoting Bronson’s campaign.
In his address, Bronson promised, if elected mayor, to keep the Assembly Chambers, businesses, and churches open. While cheers echoed through the crowd, some could hear jeers coming from behind the group.
Black Lives Matter had arrived to counter-protest. Men and women dressed in black, wearing masks and waving red flags, began congregating around the William H. Seward statue. Many held handwritten signs stating, “Defund the Police” and “Abolish the Police.”
With tensions running high, both sides remained relatively civil and peaceful. Both groups engaged in heated discussions, various side conversations, and bouts of chanting throughout the evening.
As public testimony continues for AO 2020-65, it’s unclear whether the Assembly will listen to their constituents or decide their political agenda supersedes the people’s will.
Protests against the Assembly have taken place routinely over recent weeks, as the Assembly meets behind closed doors and is making major policy decisions regarding expenditures of COVID-19 relief funds, and now the prohibition on some forms of counseling inside the city limits.
The Assembly meeting went late into the night and was scheduled to continue on Wednesday evening.