A man, seen at top center, threw snowballs at and verbally harassed a group of Alaska Native women at a rally near the Alaska State Capitol on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. (Courtesy photo / Jamiann Hasselquist)

A man, seen at top center, threw snowballs at and verbally harassed a group of Alaska Native women at a rally near the Alaska State Capitol on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. (Courtesy photo / Jamiann Hasselquist)

Man disrupts event focused on missing and murdered Indigenous women

Yelling, throw snowing caught on video by organizers.

An unidentified man briefly interrupted a climate rally held by 350Juneau, a climate action advocacy group, on Friday, with yelling and a thrown snowball.

The event, primarily virtual, with speakers presenting from near the Alaska State Capitol, was focused on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

“An act like that, and words that are shared that way, it’s really reinforcing patriarchy through terror and fear: physically throwing something and yelling something,” said Jamiann Hasselquist, vice president of the Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp Two: Juneau and a singer at the event, in a phone interview. “It’s like taking a pebble and throwing it into a pond. It resonated with me.”

The man came upon the event, before looking and throwing a snowball, visible in the video of the livestream. While the man’s voice is indistinct in the video posted on social media, Hasselquist said he was making derogatory remarks, including an obscenity, about the Alaska Native women present and their culture.

“He came up, he looked up at our group of Native women, most of us wearing red for MMIW. He spotted our camera guy, and he threw it at him, and said the words he said,” Hasselquist said. “We didn’t respond violently. We didn’t yell back. We showed true Tlingit grace. We recognized it and held each other up. Even though we were out in the community.”

John Garcia, one of the men with the rally went to dissuade the man, Hasselquist said, but he had rapidly moved down the street.

“The guy was walking off saying ‘patriarchy is our culture,’” Hasselquist said. “I think a lot of the experiences I have had are not so in-our-face and having things thrown in our direction. But it has happened.”

The normalcy of having these aggressions leveled at them is a depressing sign of what people have gotten used to, Hasselquist said.

“All of us, when the incident happened, were like, ‘Whoa, what happened.?’ It took me time to process it. It just kept sitting with me all day,” Hasselquist said. “We can do better in Juneau.”

While the group did not contact the Juneau Police Department about the incident, Hasselquist said she’d received messages from others about a man of a similar description similarly harassing other movements, including the Black Lives Matter protests over the summer.

“We might not be getting stuff chucked at us every day. But these little messages are in addition and in continuation of the ripples,” Hasselquist said. “We’re so used to us that we’re not even surprised. That for us is a pretty big red flag for the community. There’s something wrong with that.”

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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