Alaska Native activist alleges assault by Wasilla mayor

Published: Jul. 11, 2019 at 1:48 PM AKDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

An Alaska Native activist says she was assaulted by the mayor of a small town as protesters took over a seating area intended for lawmakers during a contentious session of the Alaska Legislature that's taking place in two cities.

Haliehana Stepetin filed a citizen's complaint with Wasilla police Thursday.

Stepetin alleges Wasilla Mayor Bert Cottle grabbed her arm without her permission Wednesday as she attempted to take an empty seat at the gathering of Republicans. Her complaint alleges House Minority spokesman Zach Freeman also grabbed her arm in an incident captured by photos and video.

Messages left with Cottle's office weren't immediately returned.

Wasilla Police Department told Channel 2 that an investigator is reviewing the videos provided by Stepetin to determine the severity and intent of the contact. Police may also interview witnesses and those involved, but as of now do not have an expected time frame for when the issue might be resolved or if and when criminal charges would be filed.

About 20 minority Republicans have refused to join a majority of lawmakers in Juneau, where they are attempting to override Gov. Mike Dunleavy's budget vetoes.

(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)