Alaskans are taking to the streets on Wednesday, April 22, to “send a clear message to our government that we are ready for Alaska to be open for business.”
According to a Facebook post for the event, the public demonstration aims to let Alaska’s elected officials know that “we are ready to open the economy. Our civil liberties are being violated and it’s our responsibility and privilege to protect them.”
“We are trying to make a statement but also be responsible and obey the law.”
Elizabeth Welsh, who is helping to organize the event, said the goal is to tell Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz that Alaskans “have been educated about proper precautions, especially for vulnerable populations, we have had time to prepare our hospitals, we have flattened the curve, our business are ready to operate with sanitary practices, and the time is now. Our livelihoods are essential.”
After writing and calling state representatives, several Alaskans decided to organize a physical demonstration.
One of the concerns is that the state and the Municipality of Anchorage have deemed some businesses essential and other non-essential. Welsh hopes the demonstration will change the conversation.
“Every business owner would say their business is essential to someone because it puts food on the table,” she said. “If a big box store can operate within certain safety guidelines, then small businesses can too. We just want to send a clear message that people are really hurting and struggling and we should be free to take care of ourselves.”
Organizers are urging participants to follow all traffic laws and social distancing protocols.
“We are trying to make a statement but also be responsible and obey the law,” Welsh said.
Protestors will meet at the Loussac Library parking lot in Anchorage at 12 p.m. and proceed as an organized vehicle caravan down the street. Participants are asked to keep their car windows rolled up while in the parking lot and to be respectful. They are also urged to wear red and bring signs and flags.
Company vans, trucks and other vehicles are welcome – including whole fleets. Drivers will enter the library parking lot through the Denali Street entrance. From there volunteers will direct cars to proceed along the rolling protest route into downtown Anchorage.
“Come on Anchorage businesses! Let’s get our company vehicles rolling!” stated a Facebook post by Bernadette Wilson, who is volunteering to help mobilize as many company cars as possible.
“If you don’t have a company vehicle but would like to show support or unity with a specific business or line of work you can always use window paint! Balloons, signage and flags are just a few additional ideas,” Bernadette said. “Anchorage small businesses and their employees are some of the most creative minds we have!”
Welsh said there has been a lot of enthusiasm on the group’s Facebook page, which now has more than 2,500 people.
“We’re really hoping to have a big turnout,” she said.
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