Juneau police still looking for witnesses to racial outburst at Celebration

Grand Entrance to Celebration. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

A racial outburst disrupted a parade that took place during last month’s Celebration. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

Juneau police are looking for additional witnesses to a racial incident that marred the parade at the end of last month’s Alaska Native Celebration.

Lt. Kris Sell hopes witnesses who haven’t yet talked to the police will come forward.

“Some of those people may be assuming that we have plenty of witnesses because lots of people were talking to the police that day, and we did get a handful of witnesses. Unfortunately, not all of those people got a good look at the suspect,” Sell says.

The suspect reportedly kicked over traffic barricades on Main Street during the Celebration parade June 14, says Sell. He was then found in front of the Goldbelt Hotel chanting a racial slur to the beat of a drum. He grabbed the American flag from an Alaska Native man’s hand, spit on the flag and tried to run away with it.

“Some people who were attending the parade, some participants, chased him and got the flag back. And we don’t know the names of those people but we would like to talk to them,” she says.

Sell says Alexander Libbrecht, 32,  is a person of interest. Libbrecht was sentenced last week to a year in prison. He changed his plea from not guilty to no contest on an assault charge for yelling racial slurs at a black woman on Gold Street and threatening to beat her with a baseball bat.

He also is under investigation by the U.S. Secret Service for verbal threats against President Barack Obama as well as a New Jersey attorney, who represented him in a previous case.

Sell says Libbrecht’s behavior fits the description of the suspect connected to the Celebration incident, although none of the witnesses Juneau police interviewed have positively identified him. Sell says eye witnesses can be difficult.

“Some people described him as wearing shorts. Some people described him as wearing khaki pants or blue jeans. We had different descriptions about his weight and age and other clothing descriptors,” Sell says.

Sell says Libbrecht has not been specifically questioned about the Celebration incident.

Juneau police had witness interviews scheduled Tuesday evening. Anyone else who believes they saw the face of the suspect can contact Lt. Kris Sell at 586-0600.