Video: Alaska Bureaucrats 'Physically Attack, Block' Pro-Life Protesters in Juneau

As reported on Wednesday, public resources have been used by the state government in Juneau to impede the First Amendment rights of pro-life protesters. You can read that story and see that video HERE.

In response to that story, Governor Parnell released a statement that he was “surprised to learn that a Department of Administration employee had been directed to park a State vehicle in front of peacefully assembled demonstrators outside the capitol.” The Governor stated that he had “given direction to the Department to ensure this does not happen in the future unless public safety is at risk or the rule of law violated.” You can read his full statement HERE.

Despite the Governor’s statement, things took a turn for the worse the next day. During this second day of pro-life protests, state vehicles were again brought in to block the protesters’ signs. According to observers, not only did the Capitol Chief of Security and Assistant Chief of Security forcibly take a sign from a protester and move it across the street, their actions took a more ominous turn.

As you will see in the following video, the Assistant Chief of Security forcibly moved a protester from where he was standing, apparently knocking him down and hurting him in the process. The Assistant Chief of Security then forcibly took the camera from one of the protesters and shut it off:

What follows is a narrative of events that Restoring Liberty received from one of the eye-witnesses:

April 2nd 2013

In the afternoon of Tuesday, April 2nd, during a peaceful protest staged by volunteers with CBR Alaska, it was observed that the State of Alaska was using state resources for personal interest by blocking the protest with Department of Administration trucks. The trucks were parked across the street from the capital building, in the “active loading and unloading zone” and in the road congesting traffic, obviously in answer to a command to block the protesters. There were witnesses at the protest who heard the commands being given to the drivers of the trucks. When one of the drivers left his truck there, he looked at the protesters and said “Just doing what I was told, sorry”. The trucks were left in place for at least an hour and a half. Someone observing the situation, Ted Deats, went into the capital and told Senator John Coghill’s office about what was being done. After Senator Coghill’s office called Commissioner Becky Holtberg, the vehicles were removed. Later that day, when we were sitting in our rental van, the same Department of Administration truck drove by, and the driver gestured at us that he was keeping his eye on us.

April 3rd 2013

A few minutes after 11am my wife and I returned to our rental van from the breakfast break during CBR Alaska’s protest in front of the capitol building in Juneau. We noticed that there were two blue vans parked in the No Parking (active loading and unloading) zone across the street from the capital building immediately in front of where the protest signs were being held. At 11:30AM our group redeployed our peaceful protest. When we began to take pictures of the license plates of the vans parked in the no parking zone, idol bureaucrats, who had been standing on the steps of the capital watching us, immediately walked across the street and drove one of the empty vans off.

About 30 minutes later the van came back empty, as before. At this time there was a man, Ted Deats, who was not part of our protest, but who had walked up and was conversing with us and taking pictures. Mr. Deats had realized from the day before what was going on and stood in the “no parking zone”. The driver of the van got out and told him to move. Mr. Deats refused and said he was taking a picture. The driver once again commanded Mr. Deats to move and when his command was again refused, he went into the capital in anger.

At this time, one of the protest participants, Sid Heidersdorf, had taken two of the signs across the street and was standing on the sidewalk on the corner of the street in front of the capital. Two men, Mel Personett (Chief of Security) and Steve Daigle (Assistant Chief of Security), came out of the capital and abruptly grabbed the signs that Mr. Heidersdorf was holding and brought them across the street. Their explanation was that the other side of the street was capital property and could not be used for protesting. They then returned to the capital. Several minutes later, Mr. Personett came back outside and began to explain that one of his men had “jumped the gun” regarding the removal of the signs. He said that it was fine to protest on both sides of the street.

Within a few minutes the driver came out again and started menacing Mr. Deats with the van. He revved the engine and moved to within a few inches of Mr. Deats. The driver told us that he needed to park there to “unload papers and do government work”, however the van was empty. With Mr. Deats still refusing to move, the driver got out and said he was calling the police. Several moments later, Steve Daigle accompanied the driver of the van outside and they once again began menacing Mr. Deats. After some exchange, Steve Daigle physically pushed Mr. Deats out of the way and ended up pulling him to the ground and knocking his knee against the curb. As a witness to the events that had been and were occurring, Haylee Kurka, took video of the above series of events. As she videoed the exchange, Mr. Daigle reached out and grabbed the phone out of her hand and turned off the recorder. He then shoved the phone back at her. At this point, Mr. Deats was seated on the ground, and the driver got out of the seat and started calling him derogatory names.

Juneau police arrived several minutes later and began questioning those who were involved. Most of the exchange is in the video. The officer told Mr. Deats that it was unacceptable to stand in the way and block the loading zone, but also that steps should be taken to explain to the acceptable authorities what had happened. As the officer talked to the protesters, they watched as the driver and other men loaded very small things into the van, attempting to validate their claim that they needed to be in the loading and unloading zone.

Once the police left, things went on as they had been, until the protesters left a short while later to keep a previous commitment. The many pictures and videos were given to Senator Dyson’s office as evidence of what had happened.