‘Back the Blue’ rally draws supporters, protestors

Hundreds of people gathered for rally in Anchorage
A group got together in Anchorage to show support for the local police department on Aug. 20, 2020.
A group got together in Anchorage to show support for the local police department on Aug. 20, 2020.(KTUU)
Published: Aug. 20, 2020 at 9:32 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The use of force by police departments across the country has caused heated debate in communities big and small, and Anchorage is no exception. On Thursday evening, hundreds of people turned out to show their support for the Anchorage Police Department at a “Back the Blue” rally, with a group of counter-protestors attending as well.

“Backing the blue today,” said Melissa Steen, who showed up to show her support for APD. “No defunding in this state. Our cops need their tools. We’re here to make sure they have it.”

Steen arrived early in the protest, which took place for a couple of hours Thursday evening and drew a big crowd.

“Supporting the police,” said Laura Hamilton. “Don’t get this defunding thing. How can they do their jobs? Supporting America.”

Not everyone, however, was attending for the same reason. A much smaller group had a different message, focused specifically on an ordinance currently being considered by the Anchorage Assembly.

“We are counter-protesting the “Back the Blue” rally over there, because they are opposed to an Anchorage ordinance submitted to the Assembly,” said an attendee who simply went by Michael.

Emilie Morrell, another demonstrator, pointed out the ordinance in particular.

“We’re out here supporting AO 2020-80, which would limit the use of police force,” Morrell said, “specifically, choke holds, like the one that killed George Floyd.”

Action on AO 2020-80 was postponed at the last regular Anchorage Assembly meeting, and will be taken up by the group on Aug. 25. While the Anchorage Police Department made it public that it does not agree with the ordinance, public input will be accepted that day as well, though Assembly Member Meg Zalatel - who brought the ordinance forward - said Thursday that she intended to continue considerations of the ordinance to late September.

You may view the ordinance in full by heading to the MOA website.

Video shot by photojournalist Kim Daehnke. Copyright 2020 KTUU. All rights reserved.

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