On Monday and Tuesday, the tense Anchorage Assembly meeting that began on September 28 continued in the Assembly chambers. Though the mood has calmed slightly since the raucous meetings last week, this week’s meetings continue to feature frequent cheering, disruptions, and unusual behavior by members of the audience.
Those giving testimony, the vast majority of whom oppose the mandate, have argued that the mandate would negatively impact personal health, recreation, or jobs, and have repeatedly stated that they “do not consent, and will not comply” with any new restrictions. Testifiers frequently continue to compare mask mandates to the practices of Nazi Germany and to the Holocaust, despite widespread condemnation of that comparison last week.
In recent days, opponents of the mask mandate have increasingly acknowledged that they are attempting to filibuster the vote. On September 30, Elizabeth Welsh, who serves as an administrator for the popular anti-mandate Facebook group OpenAlaska and as an aide to Assembly Member Jamie Allard, declared on Facebook “This is The People’s Filibuster.”
Allard’s practice of repeatedly asking follow-up questions, the relevance of which is often unclear, has become a long-running topic of humor among individuals present at the meeting–including Allard herself. Toward the end of the meeting Tuesday, Allard abruptly interrupted a person giving testimony to raise a series of procedural questions, eventually prompting an exasperated Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance to tell Allard, “I’m accusing you of wasting time.” Assembly Member Austin Quinn-Davidson later accused Allard of engaging in a “dilatory tactic.”
Meetings this week have also frequently put the acrimonious conflict between Mayor Bronson and the Anchorage Assembly majority on public display. On Tuesday, Bronson questioned the right of the Assembly to appoint a Sergeant at Arms, and, to laughter and applause, accused Assembly Chair LaFrance of “inventing things” and holding an “illegal vote” after LaFrance attempted to address Allard’s procedural questions.
The following photos are available for free public use via Creative Commons license, and can be downloaded from the Alaska Landmine Flickr gallery.