Update: Racial outburst disrupts end of Celebration parade

Update June 18, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Police officers believe they have identified a person of interest in last Saturday’s racial incident that marred the end of the Celebration parade in downtown. He’s identified as between 5-foot-8 and 5-foot-10, 200 pounds, in his 30’s, looking ragged or disheveled, and with reddish hair and a pale complexion.

“We are not certain, but right now he is our best lead,” said Lt. Kris Sell of the Juneau Police Department.

Sell said there may have been other unusual or odd encounters since the man’s arrival in Juneau in April.

The man allegedly yelled racial slurs during Saturday’s parade, knocked over a woman, tried to spit on an American flag and grab it from a veteran, and then shoved another woman as he fled the scene. It’s believed that he was the same person that knocked over Main Street traffic barricades just before the flag incident.

Sell said if you see the man, don’t engage him.

“His behavior might be unsettling,” Sell said. “We ask that people not approach him, but to call us. He tends towards aggressive behavior. So, we wouldn’t want somebody to risk themselves by trying to talk to him and do their own investigation.”

Sell said that another man previously identified as the suspect is not the one responsible for the racial outburst. Pictures are being passed through Facebook and text messaging that apparently show the Juneau resident moments before the parade encounter. But Sell said they’ve already located and talked to that person.

“He’s telling the officer that interviewed him that he is feeling threatened,” Sell said. “We want to make people understand that he is not the suspect in this case. We don’t believe that he is the one that did this. We are looking at this other person of interest”

The widely circulated picture was taken the day before the incident on Friday. Sell said the Juneau man looks similar to their person of interest, but his alibi of working on Saturday during the parade checks out.

Original story June 16, 2014 at 9:36 pm

Juneau police are asking for help identifying a man in connection with a racist incident during Saturday morning’s Celebration parade through downtown.

Police say a white male confronted an Alaska Native veteran, who was part of a group of flag bearers that led the parade on Willoughby Avenue near Centennial Hall.

The unidentified man reportedly yelled racial slurs, tried to spit on the American flag, then grabbed it and tried to run off. Bystanders wrestled the flag away from the man before he fled toward Whittier Street, shoving people as he ran.

Juneau Police Lt. Kris Sell says a half-dozen people were involved in the incident that lasted only a few seconds.

“It was shocking for the people involved for somebody to just have this socially unacceptable outburst that became physical,” Sell said.  “I think most of us go through life not really expecting to see that. People don’t normally act that way within the view of the general public.”

No one was hurt during the incident.

Officers in a vehicle and on bicycles – including Lt. Sell — searched the area for the man.

Many people were taking pictures of the parade. Now police are asking the public if they have photos or video of the incident. Crime Line is offering a cash reward for  images or information that leads to the man’s identification.

The man was reported to be wearing a light toned multi-colored knit cap under the hood of a dark, possibly blue, jacket.

People with information should go to the Crime Line website, or call Juneau Police at 586-0600.