The 22 legislators who are convening in Wasilla were given the royal “Antifa treatment,” with numerous antics and disruptions from protesters.
The moment the legislators walked into the gymnasium at Wasilla Middle School, where their makeshift proceedings are taking place, the protesters rushed to occupy the lawmakers’ assigned seats. Legislators simply moved to other seats. Protesters screamed and chanted and held signs.
As Rep. Sharon Jackson began to sing “Amazing Grace,” there was a noticeable pause in the yelling, as if it caught the protesters off guard. Then, a protester yelled “Indigenous prayers on indigenous land!” And the collective howling continued.
As the prayer was said, protesters yelled more against prayers and for “45 to override!”
They screamed over the voices of legislators reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
And then some of them chained themselves to the outer door, causing a public safety hazard. They screamed while Sen. Mia Costello made a few remarks.
Wasilla Police and State Troopers talked to the protesters but didn’t intervene. They later ushered lawmakers into a “hospitality room” for their safety, and eventually the lawmakers were able to exit the building through an undisclosed door.
Protesters stayed for another two hours, while media cameras took in the entire spectacle.
In contrast, there were conservatives from across the Mat-Su Valley at the meeting, and they conducted themselves with decorum, although they were shocked at the spectacle and, in whispers, wondered why the protesters were not arrested. There was no shouting back, although there were some attempts to have meaningful dialogue — attempts that were met with more shouting.
One lawmaker noted that the presiding officers of the Legislature, Sen. Cathy Giessel and Rep. Bryce Edgmon, said Wasilla was not a safe place to do the people’s business, ostensibly because Wasillans are known for their passionate conservative politics.
But it was the “other side” that created a safety issue, behaving much as protesters do in third-world countries when they occupy government buildings, the lawmaker noted.
Among the protesters who stormed the floor and took legislators’ seats were Olivia Garrett, who was recently a staffer to Sen. Scott Kawasaki; and Judy Jessen, who recently staffed Rep. Ivy Spohnholz. They are the women photographed above.
Back in Juneau, there were not enough legislators present to override the governor’s vetoes. Gov. Michael Dunleavy has vetoed 12.5 percent of the overall operating budget, but many of the cuts are to the University of Alaska, whose leadership has mounted a concerted protest. The entire university system is now alive with protest of the $135 million vetoes to the nearly $1 billion university budget, which is 17 percent of the overall university system operating budget.
Protesters stormed the Capitol in Juneau this year, led by AFL-CIO President Vince Beltrami, but the media didn’t report it widely. MRAK did report on the near takeover of the Third Floor of the Capitol:
JUST FOR THEATRICS?
While the theatrics took place in Wasilla, a vote took place in a joint session in Juneau, and the votes to override the governor’s vetoes failed with just 37 to override. Rep. Tammie Wilson, who flew to Juneau on Monday, was the lone “no” vote. There were not even enough lawmakers in Juneau to actually override the vetoes, but the vote allowed them to get on the record their displeasure.
This is a developing story. Check back for further details.