A group of Juneau residents who support law enforcement are having a difficult time organizing area residents to participate in the city’s July 4th Independence Day parade.
In the wake of anti-police demonstration around the nation last year, Juneau Backs the Blue formed in order to collaborate on ways to publicly show appreciation and respect for Juneau’s law enforcement officers. The group, which has 730 followers on Facebook, organized a couple of rallies last summer.
Mobilizing volunteers for a float or marching group during the July 4th parade, however, has proved difficult.
“We have not received enough interest in being in the parade, so we will not be entering a float or walking group,” a June 28 notice on the group’s Facebook page states.
Several members expressed concern about being pegged as a racist or Nazi by anti-law enforcement activists in Juneau. One woman worried that a pro-police float might incite violence.
Others, however, said such fears were overblown, and encouraged Juneau Backs the Blue to have a presence at the parade.
“I for one am in no way worried about anything happening at parade,” Aimee Austin posted. “I’ve lived here my whole life and not once was the community parade or Douglas party ever effected by anyone remotely acting that way – maybe you should come hang with us at parade? As far as the float for parade, don’t need one to walk in it! If you support our officers, emergency response personnel and corrections officers, walk in the parade who cares what simpleminded people think.”
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While July 4th parades are traditionally occasions to celebrate America’s official Declaration of Independence from Great Britain in 1776, the City of Juneau has decided that this year’s theme will be “Building Bridges Across the Last Frontier.” To highlight this theme, parade organizers appointed two grand marshals for the event.
“In each one’s unique path, both have used education, cultural celebration, and historical stories to create an atmosphere of understanding and appreciation between brown, Black, white, Asian American and Pacific Islanders, and Indigenous Americans,” the official parade website states.
One marshal is former Juneau police officer Benjamin Danny Coronell, who served from 1979 to 2003. The other is Sherry Patterson, the president of Black Awareness Association of Juneau, a nonprofit dedicated to addressing concerns of people of Black American heritage. Over the past year, however, it has embraced the Black Lives Matter movement, critical race theory and LGBTQ activism.
The early registration deadline to enter the parade has passed, but residents can still enter a float or marching group if they pay a $15 late fee. For more information about entering a float or walking group in the parade, click here.