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.