Press Release: Rally for ‘Safe and Healthy Anchorage for All’ goes Virtual

Press release, July 31, 2020
Contact: Recover Alaska, Tiffany Hall, Office 907-249-6644 / Cell 512-968-1933, [email protected]

Subject: Rally for ‘Safe and Healthy Anchorage for All’ goes Virtual

Recover Alaska, the Allies for Change group of the Alaska Black Caucus, Alaska Children’s Trust, and Christians for Equality agreed this afternoon to turn a Sunday rally to show support for ‘Safe and Healthy Anchorage for All’ into a virtual event to comply with today’s emergency order restricting the size of public events.

250 individuals and organizations have been working together for the past five weeks to develop recommendations for the Anchorage Assembly to allocate alcohol tax revenues. Recover Alaska led the effort to support passage of the alcohol tax earlier this year.

New funding from the tax is dedicated to increasing community safety; reducing and preventing child abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence; and preventing and treating substance misuse, mental health issues, and homelessness.

Sunday’s rally offered a strong rebuke to portions of recent public testimony to the Anchorage Assembly. Some public comments voiced racist sentiments using terms like “drunken Natives” and “those kind of people”, sometimes comparing people experiencing homelessness to animals and cancer.

One group advocated forcibly committing people who are homeless into correctional institutions for six months or more. According to a legal opinion by Disability Law Center of Alaska, this approach violates multiple federal laws and a recent Alaska Court of Appeals ruling.

Sunday’s rally invited people who “believe that Anchorage should be a community where we take care of our neighbors, that welcomes everyone and rejects all forms of racism and bigotry, and where all people have the opportunity to be safe, healthy and housed” to wave signs along a midtown sidewalk, according to the Facebook invitation.

Posted Thursday the invite quickly grew to over 100 responders, with multiple groups and organizations signing on as co-hosts. Local business Allen and Peterson’s also pledged support.

The rally sought to send “a strong message that we support the Assembly in investing in solving homelessness, eliminating racism, preventing family violence, and making our community safer and healthier for everyone.”

While organizers were requiring face coverings and social distancing, the emergency order released by the Municipality today bans outdoor gatherings of more than fifty persons.

“When we realized we could have a couple of hundred people show up, we needed to change our plan to comply,” said Tiffany Hall, Recover Alaska’s Executive Director.

“It was getting too big, too fast,” said Reverend Michael Burke of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church that had offered space and supplies for sign building.

Rally organizers are now asking supporters to post signs in car and house windows to show their support. Suggested messages include “Safe and Healthy Anchorage for All”, “I am my sister’s/brother’s keeper”, “Yes! In my backyard”, “Build the Beloved Community”, “Neighbors Caring for Neighbors”, and “Everyone deserves a home”. Supporters are encouraged to post photos of themselves with their signs to social media with the hashtag #Anchorage for All.

Recover will present the full set of recommendations for the Anchorage Alcohol Tax Theory of Change: Funding Framework at Assembly Town Halls scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday this week.