Anchorage, Alaska, the mayor apologizes for supporting the adoption of Holocaust symbols by opponents of the mask mandate
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – The mayor of Alaska’s largest city apologized Thursday for comments supporting some residents’ use of Holocaust imagery to compare a draft mask warrant to the citywide oppression of the Jewish people in Nazi Germany.
Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson said he strongly opposed the proposal and initially defended the use of yellow Stars of David worn by other critics this week in heated public hearings. Such images have been used by opponents of the mask and vaccine warrants across the United States, drawing condemnation from the Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish organizations.
The proposal submitted to the Anchor Assembly would require people to wear masks in indoor and outdoor public spaces at major events. If approved as written, businesses and building owners would be required to deny entry to people not wearing masks, although there are exceptions for small children and some others.
It comes as Alaska is experiencing a spike in coronavirus cases. The state has seen a 42% increase in new confirmed COVID-19 cases over the past week, officials said, and its largest hospital has declared crisis standards that allow the overwhelmed facility to change her normal levels of care.
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The mask proposal elicited a strong reaction.
Four people were arrested during an assembly hearing Wednesday on the measure, two for disorderly conduct and two for trespassing. One of them is also facing a charge of weapons misconduct for allegedly carrying a concealed firearm, Anchorage Police Sgt. Ken Bushue told the Anchorage Daily News.
““For me and most Jews, seeing the yellow Star of David on someone’s chest has the same feeling as seeing a swastika on a flag or the SS badge on a uniform. I believe it is a constitutional right to protest for your values. But I ask you not to use symbols that diminish the 6 million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. ‘“
Anchorage instituted mask mandates under two different city governments. But Bronson, a Republican, was elected in May after pledging not to enact mask mandates. At an assembly meeting on Tuesday, he said the proposed mask mandate was “reckless and ill-conceived.”
“I oppose this ordinance because it is based on inconclusive science, because it is bad policy and because it is an unconstitutional violation of the liberty guaranteed to every citizen of Anchorage by our constitutions. federal and state, ”Bronson said. “Most importantly, I oppose this ordinance because it pits neighbor against neighbor, store owner against customer and friend against friend.”
At a hearing the next day, he defended the use of the yellow stars, with the words “Do not comply”, worn by some participants opposing the mandate of the mask.
Christine Hill, who appeared twice unsuccessfully for the assembly, printed the stars in her home and distributed them to others to compare with the oppression, and ultimately genocide, of the Jewish people under the Nazi regime. “We are following the same path, which is happening now, taking away more and more of our freedom. And this is what is happening. That’s what’s scary, ”Hill said.
Assembly member Forrest Dunbar, who is Jewish and lost to Bronson in the non-partisan mayoral race, spoke out against the use of the Star of David, reading a letter he received from his rabbi, Abram Goodstein.
“It broke my heart when I noticed individuals wearing yellow Stars of David, mimicking my Jewish ancestors who perished during the Holocaust,” Dunbar read, quoting Goodstein.
“For me and most Jews, seeing the yellow Star of David on someone’s chest has the same feeling as seeing a swastika on a flag or the SS badge on a uniform,” the letter reads. “I believe it is a constitutional right to protest for your values. But I ask you not to use symbols that diminish the 6 million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust. “
When commenting on the topic on Wednesday, Bronson said, “There was a formal message that came out within Jewish culture about it, and the message was, ‘Never again’. It’s a philosophy. And that’s what this star really means, “We won’t forget, this will never happen again.” And I think we borrowing from them is actually credit to them. “
“‘We are going on the same road [as did wartime Europe under Nazi hegemony], which is happening now, taking more and more of our freedom away. And this is what is happening. This is what is scary.“
On Thursday, the mayor issued a statement apologizing for his comments. “I understand that we should not trivialize or compare what happened during the Holocaust to a mask warrant, and I apologize for any perception that my statements support or compare what happened to the people. Jewish in Nazi Germany, ”Bronson said.
Many in the crowd testified against the mask’s warrant. Others called for the meeting to express support for the proposal, citing a growing number of cases and overcrowded hospitals. They included Dr. Tom Hennessy, who specializes in public health and preventive medicine at the University of Alaska Anchorage.
“There is clear and compelling evidence that the use of face masks and mask warrants in public places reduces transmission and deaths from COVID-19. We know this from lab studies and real-world evaluation of mask policies, ”Hennessy said.
The hearing was scheduled to continue on Thursday. Bronson could veto the proposal, but the assembly has the power to override it.
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MarketWatch has contributed to this.