JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Juneau officials are considering an ordinance that would create a committee to ensure that future local laws are not racist or discriminatory.
The proposal to the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly is a response to community pressure to establish oversight committees for city departments including schools, police and the assembly itself, The Juneau Empire reported Sunday.
Assembly member Rob Edwardson introduced the ordinance last week to create a new seven-person committee with members who have experience identifying unlawful discrimination.
Edwardson said he is working with the local government attorney on the ordinance after receiving community feedback.
The police killing of George Floyd in May “raised the consciousness of people who don’t normally suffer discrimination,” Edwardson said. “If you study systemic racism, it needs to be talked about, and that’s the intent of this.”
Floyd, a Black man, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck while he was handcuffed and lying on the ground. His death prompted protests across the U.S. and around the world against police brutality and racial injustice.
Hundreds of Juneau residents protested on June 7, demanding that city officials adopt measures to combat racism in city institutions.
Several community members testified at the assembly’s meeting last week in support of the new committee to help identify discrimination within city policies.
Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska President Richard Chalyee Eesh Peterson told assembly members that the racism panel would be groundbreaking.
“I truly believe this committee is the first step in the right direction towards building a community of inclusivity and respect,” Peterson said.
But Juneau resident Alex Fritz said he was worried about the “committee becoming a political arm or a manipulative force.”