Anchorage protesters rally downtown, frustrated that local police still do not have body cameras

A boy with sunglasses and a black and red sign
Jeremiah Savage circled around Alaska Police Department’s headquarters on Thursday protesting the lack of body cameras on police. (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

More than 30 people marched in protest in Anchorage Thursday night, frustrated that local police officers still do not have body-worn cameras, now a year and a half after voters approved them. 

Celeste Hodge Growden, president of the Alaska Black Caucus, led the rally, starting in front of APD’s downtown headquarters. Her organization advocated for the $1.8 million purchase of body cameras, which Anchorage voters approved in March 2021. Police have provided no timeline for when officers will start wearing the cameras.

“To see that we are no further along is… I don’t even want to say the word, because I’m a Christian,” Hodge Growden said. “But I will say that it is quite disturbing.”

Anchorage police, the city and the police officers’ union have been negotiating the body camera policy for months. Officials with the police department would not comment on the policy Thursday, beyond saying the process is ongoing. 

READ MORE: As APD continues to draft policy for body-worn cameras, legal hiccups over access to footage have advocates concerned

After about 30 minutes of protesting in front of the police headquarters Thursday night, the group turned their attention to City Hall, walking several blocks in unison. Many held signs with messages like, “APD Cam Up Now” and “No accountability. No justice.” 

A woman screaming with a red sign
Natalie Janicka shouts, “What do we want? Body cams!” (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

Jeremiah Savage led protesters in chants through a megaphone, yelling: “What do you we want?” The crowd responded: “Body cams!”

“When do we want them?” Savage said. “Now,” the crowd affirmed.

Savage changed his chant mid-march to “A-P-D,” eliciting a, “Do your job!” response from fellow protesters.

The protest lasted just under an hour. 

READ MORE: Alaska Black Caucus and other groups threaten legal action over APD’s lack of body cameras

Last month, the Alaska Black Caucus and other groups sent a letter threatening legal action over the lack of a body camera policy. Rich Curtner is an attorney for the nonprofit. 

“I don’t know what the holdup is,” Curtner said. “It was privacy for a while, now it’s the union, now it’s arbitration. It just seems like it’s taking too long.”

Curtner said the Alaska Black Caucus is still exploring legal options to get the policy implemented. 

Several Alaska law enforcement agencies already have body cameras, including Fairbanks police, University of Alaska Anchorage police and the Kotzebue Police Department.

A crowd of people protesting
More than 30 people marched from Anchorage police headquarters to City Hall. (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that while the purchase of body cameras for state troopers has been approved, they haven’t been outfitted with them yet.

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