David A. Powell, 54, appears in court after being charged with property damage for nailing a sign to the door of the governor’s mansion on Dr. Martin Luther King Day as a form of protest, Jan. 27, 2020. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

David A. Powell, 54, appears in court after being charged with property damage for nailing a sign to the door of the governor’s mansion on Dr. Martin Luther King Day as a form of protest, Jan. 27, 2020. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

Man charged for nailing sign to governor’s mansion pleads no contest

He was fined and got a suspended three-day jail sentence.

A Soldotna man who nailed a sign to the door of the governor’s mansion in Juneau last week pleaded no contest to misdemeanor property damage on Monday.

David A. Powell, 54, was fined and sentenced to three days of prison by Juneau District Court Judge Kirsten Swanson. Both the fine and jail sentence were suspended, contingent on Powell following probation conditions.

Prosecutors said nailing the sign to the historic house on Calhoun Avenue caused enough damage where it could have been charged as a felony. Powell changed his plea to the misdemeanor at the city-level, before the case could be elevated to a felony and transferred to state prosecutors.

In court, Powell said he chose the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday last Monday to post the sign to Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s door.

“Some 400 years ago, a man nailed a piece of paper to a door,” Powell said in a statement read aloud in the courtroom. “The day I nailed that to the door was the day celebrating that man’s life. Soon that note will be looked at in the same way with Martin Luther’s note.”

The event Powell references many years ago was when Martin Luther, a monk and scholar, nailed his “95 Theses” to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church, a list of issues he took with the Catholic Church and practices Luther perceived to be corrupt. It’s widely recognized as a foundational moment for the Protestant Reformation. Hundreds of years later, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be named after the scholar.

Powell brought his note to the courthouse. Following a brief open letter format introduction to the governor, it outlines a number of points that Powell hoped would be addressed, including justice for Alaska Natives treated poorly by the government, restitution for reduced PFD payoffs over the last several years, an end to mandatory vaccines, and an international case brought against Japan and General Electric for environmental effects of radiation in Alaska resulting from the Fukushima event.

David A. Powell, 54, appears in court after being charged with property damage for nailing a sign to the door of the governor’s mansion on Dr. Martin Luther King Day as a form of protest, Jan. 27, 2020. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

David A. Powell, 54, appears in court after being charged with property damage for nailing a sign to the door of the governor’s mansion on Dr. Martin Luther King Day as a form of protest, Jan. 27, 2020. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

“In the days to come, I will stand tall with Jesus Christ,” Powell said in an interview after the court hearing. “The Lord’s been pulling at my heart about this my whole life.”

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

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