Alaska’s residents are joining the rest of the lower 48 in protesting the death of George Floyd. The three largest cities in Alaska held protests in the streets to protest against police brutality after a black man named George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer. Officer Derek Chauvin pinned Floyd to the ground and placed a knee on his neck. In a video of the arrest, Floyd said, “I can’t breathe,” yet Chauvin did not remove his knee resulting in Floyd’s death.
When the video went viral, people were enraged by the act of police brutality and started protests in all 50 states. Alaska’s protests, so far, have been completely peaceful. In Anchorage, two marches were organized on May 30. A march organized by high school student Markus Vinson, began at noon in Town Square Park. Around a hundred people showed up for the protest with signs ready to march through Downtown Anchorage. Vinson said he was “blown away by the turnout” in an interview with KTOO.org on May 30.
At 1 p.m., another protest was held in a parking lot in midtown Anchorage. Speakers including pastors and Alaska Native and Asian community members were present at the rally. Organizers were cautious of COVID-19 concerns and placed pieces of duct tape 6 feet apart and also had the rally broadcasted so that people could listen in their cars, according to KTOO.org’s May 30 article.
“The residents of Anchorage are connected to people all across the country and cities everywhere so this really demonstrates the awareness that we have as a globally connected [and] nationally connected city even though we’re kind of far off in the corner,” George Martinez, a protester, said in an interview with KTOO.org.
Rallies in Fairbanks and Juneau each drew in crowds of hundreds and marched through downtown. Similar protests were held in Utqia?vik on June 6 and in Kotzebue on June 2.
“Holding a protest in Kotzebue, Alaska sends the message that we see the oppression faced by black people in America,” said resident Hannah Atkinson in an interview with Anchorage Daily News. “I see it, I am not okay with it, and I have to do everything in my power to fight against it. It is also important because I want black people in Kotzebue to feel seen and supported.”
Changes in the case against Floyd’s arresting officers have been made following Black Lives Matter protests. Chauvin has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder. The three other officers present during Floyd’s murder are also facing charges of aiding and abetting murder, according to NPR.org.
Funds are also being redirected from police departments in Los Angeles and New York City to other needs within the cities. The Minneapolis City Council stated that they intend to end the Minneapolis Police Department and form a new model for safety. Local elected officials in many cities are proposing to ban chokeholds, no-knock warrants and tear gas. Due to the protests and marches around the nation, real changes are being discussed in many U.S cities.