Choose Respect rally draws big crowd

Rep. Benjamin Nageak
Ati Nasiah
choose respect 2014
Choose respect 2014 crowd
choose respect 2014 main street
Lauree Morton

Rep. Benjamin Nageak raises his fist in solidarity with the effort to reduce domestic violence in Alaska at the Choose Respect rally on the Capitol steps, March 27, 2014. (Photo by Skip Gray/KTOO)

Ati Nasiah, prevention manager at the AWARE women’s shelter in Juneau, speaks out against domestic violence at the Choose Respect rally. (Photo by Skip Gray/KTOO)

Supporters of the Choose Respect campaign listen to speakers during a rally at the State Capitol. (Photo by Skip Gray/KTOO)

Gov. Sean Parnell's Choose Respect campaign addresses domestic violence and sexual assault prevention in Alaska. About 150 people attended Juneau's Choose Respect event. (Photo by Skip Gray/KTOO)

A group of mostly legislators led the Choose Respect march down Main Street in Juneau. The rally began on the steps of the State Capitol, the brown brick building in the background. (Photo by Skip Gray/KTOO)

Lauree Morton, executive director of the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, gives closing remarks. (Photo by Skip Gray/KTOO)

On a sunny but blustery Juneau Thursday, around 150 people gathered and marched down Main Street, including Michael Uddipa, a Thunder Mountain High School varsity basketball player.

“We are a team that chooses respect,” Uddipa said after marching to Marine Park with his team.

Although Gov. Sean Parnell’s Choose Respect campaign is geared towards eradicating domestic violence and sexual assault in the state, Uddipa said there are other ways to embody the message, which he and his teammates learn about from basketball coach John Blasco.

“We go over, like, what we can do if an opposing team tries to start a fight in the game and see which ways we can handle it without using violence. And we talk about how it is appropriate to compliment women and to not say anything too rude,” he says.

Lt. Kris Sell was one of many Juneau Police officers who marched Thursday. She says law enforcement is intricately entwined with domestic violence and sexual assault.

“We respond to so much domestic violence. We’re in the homes. We see the victims. We see the devastated expressions on the faces of the children who have witnessed it. And we watch the multiple generations that suffer when this is going on,” Sell says. 

By participating in the event, Sell hopes to show victims that police officers support them and want to stop the violence.

“This is not okay. We may come from a macho culture but taking domination into the homes is a weak thing to do,” Sell says.

Choose Respect marches took place in more in 170 communities around the state. Throughout the year, these communities are invited to participate in state-sponsored domestic violence and sexual assault webinars that focus on education and prevention.

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