Unalaskans Form New Advocacy Group Focused On Human Rights

Feb 27, 2017

Demonstrators gather outside Unalaska's high school Sunday as part of a rally for human rights.
Credit Laura Kraegel/KUCB

A month after the women’s march, Unalaska activists were back at it Sunday, rallying for human rights. About 30 people turned out for the demonstration led by Alaskans for Compassion and Truth (ACT), a new organization on the island.

Outside City Hall, Amy Purevsuren has gathered a group of Unalaskans. Most are clutching protest signs in one hand and circulating petitions with the other.

“We’re calling ourselves ACT, which stands for Alaskans for Compassion and Truth,” she said.

Purevsuren said the organization came together about a month ago, growing out of conversations between concerned friends.

“We’re concerned about Unalaskans maintaining their health care," she said. "We’re concerned about women’s rights and the LGBTQ community. We’re worried about the environment and climate change. It’s a long list, so we’re trying to take it one step at a time.”

Sunday, that meant marching from City Hall and the clinic to the court house and the school.

“Not to protest those places, but to take photographs that we can send to our legislators to show these are places  we want to be protected," said Purevsuren.

ACT is also sending an open letter to Alaska's elected representatives.

“The letter begins: 'We in Unalaska are a diverse group of people, comprised of many different beliefs, ethnicities, identities, and countries of origin," said Shawna Rudio. "From Unangan people to immigrants, we live peacefully together in western Alaska.'"

Rudio said Alaska must take a stand against divisive policies instated by the Trump administration, if communities around the country are to maintain their peace.

“I’m here to respectfully ask our state senators, U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, and U.S. Rep. Don Young to please stand up and take some responsibility," she said. "I don’t think it’s too melodramatic to say that democracy is at stake right now.”

While ACT sends that message to Juneau and Washington, Suzi Golodoff said the group is also making a statement to the island’s diverse community.  

“We want to stick up for that and preserve it," she said. "We don’t want our friends, families, neighbors, and coworkers to be frightened or chased off into the shadows. We love our diversity because it makes us strong, and it makes this an interesting place to live.”