Dustin Darden is often a pain in the neck for the Anchorage Assembly majority. He serves up public testimony at nearly every meeting of the Assembly and disagrees with the liberal majority on many items during public hearings.
On Tuesday evening, he rose to join a group of the self-identified “LGBTQ community” to receive recognition for Pride Month, with an official resolution being read by Assemblyman Chris Constant.
Vice Chair Constant had invited the members of the LGBTQ community who had come to the meeting to step forward. Darden joined the group of rainbow-decked citizens.
Assemblywoman Meg Zaletel handed Darden a copy of the resolution and then posed with him and the group at the podium. Zaletel knows Darden, just as everyone on the dais knows Darden, and she intentionally pressed a resolution in his open hands, the video shows.
Darden dutifully held up the Pride Month resolution for photos, and then reached into his bag and took out a sub sandwich and took a bite. After putting the sandwich back, he took to the microphone to say a few words. This is where it started to go sideways.
Assembly Chairwoman Suzanne LaFrance ordered Darden away from the microphone and said he needed to leave the podium. Darden stood his ground and said he was a letter, too — “the letter D.” One of the members of the LGBTQ community shoved Darden away from the microphone.
The security team arrived and Darden was eventually force-guided to the back of the room, where an argument ensued over whether he could be kicked out for simply taking part in a ceremony in which he felt entitled to be included.
The security team called police for backup, and Darden continued his argument with the police, stating his free speech rights, as he was hauled away in handcuffs, with members of the public shouting at the police, “Shame, shame, shame!!”
All the while, LaFrance and the LGBTQ members at the podium continued their ceremony.
Chairwoman LaFrance then called for a break as pandemonium was breaking out in the Assembly Chambers over the incident.
The police searched Darden and dropped him off without his keys, without a jacket, and without his wallet. Must Read Alaska found him sitting on a curb nearby, his arms tucked into the body of his shirt as he tried to stay warm in the 57 degree, breezy evening.
From Darden’s perspective, when Zaletel gave him the officially signed resolution to hold during the photo opportunity, she had used her power as an official of the city to include him. Must Read Alaska asked him what he planned to do next, and he was mulling his options as he sat on a curb, waiting for a friend to bring him another set of car keys so he could go home.
Watch the Pride Month recognition ceremony at this link: