Hundreds peacefully protest in Palmer for Black Lives Matter after fears of clashes
Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Palmer on Saturday, peacefully protesting against police brutality.
“Everyone is going to remember this for the rest of their lives,” said 16-year-old Palmer High School student and volunteer Grace Edmison.
Earlier in the week,
the event could turn ugly with clashes between protesters and people who had pledged to come armed to protect property. Before the demonstration began, members from both groups prayed together for peace.
“We have a lot of common ground, a lot of common ideas with what’s happening here, and I think it’s a beautiful thing,” said Luke “L.D.” Howard, a member of Facebook group 907Freedom. The two groups are now planning to hold a barbecue together to keep talking.
The protesters gathered before noon under the pavilion in the center of Palmer. Eden Johnson, 18, said the protest was held to honor George Floyd after he died in Minneapolis while in police custody.
More broadly, there were calls to end racial injustice in Alaska. "We are going to be achieve so much more when people don’t just speak out, but people vote," Johnson said.
“What’s going on with police brutality, it’s happening in the States, and it’s here in Anchorage, and we’ve got to recognize that,” said 19-year-old Deven Jackson.
Some protesters also called for
to be sacked after he made social media posts in 2018 that referred to Black Lives Matter as a hate group.
Across the street, a handful of counterprotesters said they were “spectating” and would act if the protest became violent. It didn’t.
There were some heated conversations between the two groups but the incidents were isolated.
Around 1:00 p.m., the usually quiet streets of Palmer swelled with close to 2,000 protesters who chanted, “No justice, no peace” and "hands up, don't shoot."
Alaska State Troopers and Palmer police looked on from a distance but were largely invisible.
The protest finished under the pavilion and a crowd of hundreds slowly made its way out of Palmer.
Edmison said she hoped the protest would spark a push for real racial change in Alaska. “I think that this is not the end, it’s just the beginning,” she said.