LISTEN: Alaska NAACP activism in early ’80s changed police use of force rules

Ed Wesley (Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media)

Anchorage’s history of activism impacting local police policy includes the NAACP’s efforts toward repealing the “fleeing felon” rule, which allowed police officers to use lethal force to stop a fleeing felon.

The United States Supreme Court ruled in 1985 that lethal force should only be used if an officer believes they or others are in immediate danger of serious physical harm.

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But the effort to make that change in Alaska started earlier, says Anchorage resident and longtime activist Ed Wesley, who was president of the Alaska NAACP at the time.

As Wesley told Alaska Public Media’s Casey Grove, a police killing in 1981 led to dialogue and some major changes.