On the eve of Thanksgiving, a couple dozen protesters gathered outside the federal courthouse in downtown Anchorage. The event was advertised on Facebook as a “Mike Brown Solidarity Protest,” referring to the 18-year-old unarmed black teenager shot and killed by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson. St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced on Monday that Wilson would not be indicted, sparking protests in Ferguson and across the country. In Ferguson, those protests turned violent.
In Anchorage, the protest was mostly peaceful. At one point, protesters holding signs on the corner of 7th and C Street were greeted by a man yelling angrily from his car window: “He was a fucking thug!” Ten or so minutes later, one protester tried to start a chant of “fuck the police,” but was quieted immediately. The familiar refrain of “no justice, no peace” resumed.
“In Missouri, the state and local governments have failed,” Michael Patterson said. Patterson is an Anchorage resident and retired military. He organized the Anchorage event. “The federal government has also failed to provide justice to not only people in Ferguson but all over this country.”
Patterson said that there were two different realities in the country. “If you’re white, you live in one world. If you’re African American, you live in another. A lot people say, well, ‘Why are they destroying their own community?’ It’s not their community. If it was their community, Darren Wilson would be on trial right now.”
“Awareness of the corruption within the political structure is important,” William, another protester, told me. He preferred not to give his last name. “And when people are solidifying nationwide, it’s kind of a big deal. I think it’s important to show up and acknowledge that the system is pretty corrupt and it’s not working.”
The crowd of about 20 people stood on the corner for over an hour, displaying signs to the downtown evening traffic. Messages like “His name was Michael Brown,” “Confront the root causes of racism,” “Stand up, fight back,” and “Black lives matter” (a popular hashtag on social media sites that serves as “a call to action and a response to the ways in which our lives have been de-valued) were greeted with approving honks and waves from passers by.