Kodiak Daily Mirror - Anch protests police shootings
Anch. protests police shootings
Jul 09, 2012 | 11 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ANCHORAGE (AP) — A big crowd gathered in Anchorage to protest the use of deadly force by police in recent weeks.

About 150 people showed up for the Saturday rally near police headquarters, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

The event follows two fatal shootings by Anchorage police officers in less than a month.

Shane Tasi, 26, was carrying a long stick when he was shot June 9 and Harry Smith, 59, was brandishing an air gun when he was shot July 1.

State prosecutors have cleared Tasi’s shooting of criminal wrongdoing. The shooting of Smith is under investigation.

Members of the local Polynesian community met with police and city officials Friday to urge them to change what they call a “shoot to kill” policy when an officer is in danger. After the meeting, officials indicated they were open to better community outreach and increased funding for nonlethal weapons, but they said training on the use of firearms in those situations will not change.

At the rally, protesters held signs that said, “We want justice” and “We want to be heard!”

Speakers of various ethnicities addressed the crowd. One speaker said that the officer who shot Tasi could have used pepper spray to disable the stick-wielding man.

The meeting Friday and the protest Saturday were a starting point for an important conversation, according to Miriama Aumavae, executive director of the recently founded Polynesian Community Center and a rally organizer.

“Law enforcement must be held accountable for any oversight committed on the (police) department’s behalf,” Aumavae said. “We will continue to raise our voices until the preservation of life, the preservation of our sacred God-given breath, is the Anchorage Police Department’s top priority.”

Marilyn Stewart-Richardson, director of the city’s Office of Equal Opportunity, spoke on behalf of Mayor Dan Sullivan, who is vacationing in Hawaii, where he took his oath of office last week.

“We had a very sensitive meeting yesterday, but we worked through those issues,” Stewart-Richardson said. “Questions were asked and we responded. It might not have been the response that everyone was looking for, but the most important thing is to look for a (common) ground that we can start building and coming together.”
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