KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska borough assembly has passed a resolution calling on the state Legislature to add police officers to a list of classes of citizens protected from discrimination.
The Ketchikan Borough Assembly’s vote Monday was tied before the city’s mayor broke the deadlock by voting in favor of the measure, KTOO Public Media reported Wednesday.
The new resolution promoted by Mayor Rodney Dial was in response to an earlier resolution he overturned last month.
Dial vetoed a resolution passed by the assembly supporting statewide protections for LGBTQ people. He then proposed a similar resolution seeking discrimination protection for police officers and Christians.
The retired Alaska State Trooper said, without evidence, that police officers face more persecution than any group in the United States.
“I support this current resolution as an alternative and as a statement that the rights of the most persecuted group in America currently by far, law enforcement officers, are as important to this body as LGBTQ rights are,” Dial said Monday.
The two assembly members who co-sponsored the resolution were Sue Pickrell, a retired Ketchikan police detective, and Alan Bailey, a state corrections officer.
Pickrell said she co-sponsored the measure because of “the alarmingly negative attitude towards law enforcement nationwide that has led to increased discrimination.”
Three of four residents who gave public testimony opposed the resolution, and Dial questioned each of them about their positions.
“Do all rights matter? And do police officers deserve the same protections as members of the LGBTQ community,” Dial asked Ketchikan Museum Curator Ryan McHale.
McHale said LGBTQ individuals are among those who have faced discrimination throughout the nation’s history, along with disabled people, women and people of color.
Laws prohibiting discrimination based on race, gender or sexual orientation exist to ensure everyone is afforded the same rights, McHale said.
“Police officers have not historically been marginalized,” McHale said. “Police officers hold power in our society. Not only hold power, but enforce that power.”
Assembly Member Felix Wong acknowledged law enforcement officers face criticism and are under heavy scrutiny.
“But it’s not to the point where it’s a systemic disenfranchisement of people in uniform,” Wong said.