“The Bronson Administration uses tactics that bully and intimidate its opponents”
On October 11, Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson fired the Municipality’s Equity Director, Clifford Armstrong III, after only four months on the job and without the approval of the Municipality’s Assembly. In his place he has appointed, without submitting this appointment to a vote of the Assembly either, Samoan Uluao “Junior” Aumavae, former vice president of the National Football League Players Association and with no experience in Equity issues, although he has worked for non-profit organizations.
Faced with this sudden unilateral and unannounced termination, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has issued a statement demanding the reversal of what it considers “an illegal firing.”
This action, along with the incidents provoked in the Assembly by the debate on the use of the masks against Covid, is making Anchorage a less safe city every day, in a climate of confrontation and tension provoked by the ultra-right-wing followers of the Republican mayor.
We spoke with Michael Patterson, spokesman for the NAACP, about this climate of confrontation and the intimidation and violence of the mayor’s supporters.
Would you say that hate and discrimination have been installed in Anchorage with Bronson in office?
The Bronson Administration routinely uses tactics that bully and intimidate its political opponents. Mayor Bronson condoned the use of the Star of David to compare the horrors of the Holocaust with public health mandates. The Administration’s use of a far-right mob to seize control of the Assembly Chambers so that the administration can abuse the political process has created an environment in which Bronson’s political opponents feel intimidated and harassed.
What disturbing events have occurred to cause local organizations and residents to demand Bronson to make public meetings safe for ALL residents to attend and participate?
The Assembly meetings have been turned into hate rallies. While I think this mob that has seized control of the chambers genuinely does not like public health mandates, they are using these mandates as an excuse to showcase their hate. Anyone who supports mandates or is opposed to the Bronson Administration would find it difficult to attend in person because of the risk to their health as no masks are worn by these people and the intimidation they would face speaking out. Every Assembly meeting deters residents from attending because they have become unsafe. Which is why a coalition of organizations is demanding that Assembly Chambers be restored, and that democracy be respected.
Have there been acts of violence at City Hall? Against whom?
I do not know if there have been acts of violence at City Hall.
On the streets of Anchorage, are acts of violence also multiplying?
I think Anchorage as a whole has become more unsafe. I am a father and all three of my kids are enrolled with the Anchorage School District. Recently, I received an email from ASD that there is a rise in racist and violent behavior among students. Children mirror the environment around them, and it is no surprise that they are acting out in such a way. Bigots raise bigots. It would not surprise me if Anchorage has its own version of the January 6 insurrection that took place in Washington D.C.
What are the local police doing against these violent acts?
The police are not doing anything. APD answers to the Bronson Administration. We saw how the Administration used overtime pay for APD officers as an excuse to block the Assembly from having a weekend meeting. Recently, Chief McCoy stated that APD will start to focus on “quality of life” crimes. Which is just another way of saying that APD is going to target the homeless and the poor for arrest.
Has a situation like the current one never happened before?
No, not in Anchorage. I don’t think democracy in the city has ever been tested like this. It is truly a unique and new experience.
Would you say that Bronson and his collaborators are writing one of the saddest and antidemocratic pages of the civic life in the history of Anchorage?
I would say the entire book about Anchorage civics is a tragedy. Anchorage is built on stolen Indigenous land. At one point, shop owners used to display signs on their storefronts that said, “No dogs, no Natives.” Moreover, Blacks and Natives were not allowed to buy or rent houses in certain neighborhoods until fairly recently. I would say that the Bronson Administration is showing a racist and undemocratic aspect of Anchorage that always existed and has been on the retreat in recent decades, and now is trying to reestablish itself. The Bronson Administration is anti-democratic and is authoritarian. Which is why it is important all Anchorage residents mobilize and fight back. We can write a new chapter in the book of Anchorage that is not tragic but one that is full of hope.