Protestors disrupt legislators in Wasilla with shouts and chants

Protestors disrupt legislators in Wasilla with shouts and chants

Storming the special session.

The special session at Wasilla Middle School was disrupted by protesters Wednesday morning. Protesters sat at the desks arranged in the school’s gym for the legislators, shouting and chanting while Sen. Mia Costello, R-Anchorage, tried to open the session.

“We’ve been doing actions/rallies all week, and we decided it was time to escalate,” Justina Beagnyam, with the Alaska Poor People’s Campaign, said in an interview. Beagnyam said that she and fellow “passionate citizens” decided to travel to Wasilla from Anchorage in order to protest the legislators in Wasilla.

Protesters sang an exit song after hijacking the legislative special session at Wasilla Middle School on Wednesday, July 10, 2019. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Protesters sang an exit song after hijacking the legislative special session at Wasilla Middle School on Wednesday, July 10, 2019. (Bill Roth / ADN)

“We decided to take over the chairs of the legislators,” Beagnyam said, referring to the desks. Protesters urged the legislators in Wasilla to “return to Juneau, to do their jobs,” and that “it’s not okay to have a PFD at the cost of people dying,” Beagnyam said, noting the cuts to social services that would occur if Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s vetoes are allowed to stand.

Other protesters chained themselves to one of the doorways of the gym, but left the main door open. No arrests were made and Beagnyam said the police on site were “very polite and understanding” and gave some of the protesters water.

Protesters wore chains as they blocked doors at Wasilla Middle School before the legislative special session on Wednesday, July 10, 2019. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Protesters wore chains as they blocked doors at Wasilla Middle School before the legislative special session on Wednesday, July 10, 2019. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Unable to be heard over the shouting of protesters, the legislators ended their session early.

A press release from the Alaska Republican Party Wednesday said that, “threatening, shrieking Democrat protesters and their ancillary leftist accomplices disrupted a peaceful session of Republican legislators.”

Beagnyam said that one of the legislators invited them back Thursday for a peaceful dialogue, though she did not recognize the legislator.

For the first time in Alaska history, the Legislature is meeting in two places at once, with dueling sessions in Wasilla and Juneau.

The Wasilla contingent believe legislators in Juneau are ignoring the law by not convening the session where Dunleavy called for it, in his hometown and conservative base of Wasilla. Dunleavy said the change of venue would be good for lawmakers who could not finish their work over five months in Juneau this year. Lawmakers in Juneau previously rejected Dunleavy’s call to go to Wasilla, citing their right to determine the location and venue for legislative sessions. The bulk of lawmakers are continuing in Juneau, the state’s capital and seat of government, and conducting business as usual.

[With Legislature fractured, override vote uncertain]


• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or psegall@juneauempire.com.


More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Nov. 27

Mountain reflections are seen from the Mendenhall Wetlands. (Courtesy Photo / Denise Carroll)
Wild Shots: Photos of Mother Nature in Alaska

Superb reader-submitted photos of wildlife, scenery and/or plant life.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
At Wednesday evening’s special Assembly meeting, the Assembly appropriated nearly $4 million toward funding a 5.5% wage increase for all CBJ employees along with a 5% increase to the employer health contribution. According to City Manager Rorie Watt, it doesn’t necessarily fix a nearly two decade-long issue of employee retention concerns for the city.
City funds wage increase amid worker shortage

City Manager says raise doesn’t fix nearly two decade-long issue of employee retainment

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Dec. 3

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Molly Yazwinski holds a 3,000-year-old moose skull with antlers still attached, found in a river on Alaska’s North Slope. Her aunt, Pam Groves, steadies an inflatable canoe. (Courtesy Photo /Dan Mann)

 

2. A 14,000-year-old fragment of a moose antler, top left, rests on a sand bar of a northern river next to the bones of ice-age horses, caribou and muskoxen, as well as the horns of a steppe bison. Photo by Pam Groves.

 

3. Moose such as this one, photographed this year near Whitehorse in the Yukon, may have been present in Alaska as long as people have. Photo by Ned Rozell.
Alaska Science Forum: Ancient moose antlers hint of early arrival

When a great deal of Earth’s water was locked up within mountains… Continue reading

FILE - Freight train cars sit in a Norfolk Southern rail yard on Sept. 14, 2022, in Atlanta. The Biden administration is saying the U.S. economy would face a severe economic shock if senators don't pass legislation this week to avert a rail worker strike. The administration is delivering that message personally to Democratic senators in a closed-door session Thursday, Dec. 1.  (AP Photo / Danny Karnik)
Congress votes to avert rail strike amid dire warnings

President vows to quickly sign the bill.

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire
Juneau state Sen. Jesse Kiehl, left, gives a legislative proclamation to former longtime Juneau Assembly member Loren Jones, following Kiehl’s speech at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce’s weekly luncheon Thursday at the Juneau Moose Family Center.
Cloudy economy, but sunnier political outlook lie ahead for lawmakers, Kiehl says

Juneau’s state senator tells Chamber of Commerce bipartisan majority a key to meaningful action

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Friday, Dec. 2

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Hunter credits community members for Thanksgiving rescue

KENAI — On Thanksgiving, Alaska Wildlife Troopers released a dispatch about a… Continue reading

Most Read