Alaskans Unite to “Choose Respect”
March 31, 2010, Juneau, Alaska - Eighteen communities across the state today launched the public awareness campaign "Alaskans Choose Respect," with events ranging from marches to rallies to candlelight vigils to potlatches. "Alaskans Choose Respect" is an ongoing effort to raise awareness of the epidemic of sexual assault and domestic violence in Alaska.
"No longer will we accept a culture of silence and shame, of convenience, and of looking the other way," Governor Sean Parnell said. "The responsibility to safeguard Alaska's families and future belongs to us all. I call on our church, synagogue and community leaders, our elected officials, our Native elders and corporations, I call on our families and communities and every Alaskan to live out the truth of our values, and to do what is right. Together we can make a difference."
Governor Parnell kicked off a rally on the steps of the Capitol and led a march through downtown Juneau. Attorney General Dan Sullivan and U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski led a march from Anchorage's Delaney Park Strip to a rally in Town Square Park; Lieutenant Governor Craig Campbell led a rally at the Golden Heart Plaza in Fairbanks; and state commissioners joined forces with community partners across the state to participate in events from Barrow to Unalaska.
Governor Parnell today also signed legislation that would empower magistrate and district court judges to grant protective orders in cases of sexual assault, in addition to domestic violence and stalking. HB 307, sponsored by Representative Lindsey Holmes, is especially important to many rural communities in Alaska that have access only to magistrate or district courts.
The governor has sponsored four bills aimed at ending the cycle of domestic violence and sexual assault in Alaska. The legislation would toughen sentences for sex offenders, establish standards for post-conviction DNA testing, revise bail laws, and pay for a new crime lab.