Alaska Senate unanimously passes Ashley Johnson-Barr Day bill

Ashley Johnson-Barr. (Photo courtesy of Kotzebue Police Department)

The Alaska Senate last week unanimously passed a bill to establish Ashley Johnson-Barr Day. 

In September 2018, investigators say 10-year-old Ashley Johnson-Barr was murdered after being kidnapped and sexually assaulted outside of Kotzebue. Peter Wilson, age 43, is currently awaiting trial for the crime. 

Johnson-Barr’s death prompted outrage across the state over a high rate of violent crimes against Native children. 

Senator Donny Olson was the main sponsor of the bill. 

“Out of the ashes and anguish of this dastardly deed comes a heightened awareness of the need to protect the most of our society from the inequity of those who have evil intent towards our children,” Olson said.

Supporters of the bill also hope it will bring awareness to the disproportionate rates of sexual assault and violence against Native women statewide. 

The bill passed the Senate unanimously on Friday, and now moves to the House. If passed and signed by the governor, Ashley Johnson-Barr Day would be held on March 12, Johnson-Barr’s birthday.

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Wesley Early covers municipal politics and Anchorage life for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at wearly@alaskapublic.org.

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