Anchorage mayor urges calm in mask debate, apologizes for Holocaust statement

Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson during public testimony at the Anchorage Assembly on Sept. 29, 2021. (Wesley Early/AKPM)

Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson issued a statement Thursday urging calm among attendees at city Assembly meetings and apologizing for his own statement comparing a city mask ordinance to the Holocaust.

“I understand that we should not trivialize or compare what happened during the Holocaust to a mask mandate and I want to apologize for any perception that my statements support or compare what happened to the Jewish people in Nazi Germany,  that was one of the most evil and darkest times in our world’s history,” the statement said.

RELATED: ‘Appalling’: Scholars say Holocaust symbol has no place in Anchorage mask debate

At Wednesday’s meeting, four people were arrested for unruly behavior and a number of people testified against the ordinance wearing Stars of David. The mayor, a staunch opponent of mandatory masking, initially defended use of Holocaust imagery.

“We’ve referenced the Star of David quite a bit here tonight, but there was a formal message that came out within Jewish culture about, that message was ‘never again.’” he said. “That’s an ethos. And that’s what that’s our really means is we will not forget, this will never happen again. And I think us borrowing that from them is actually a credit to them.”

RELATED: Discord over masks escalates with arrests, Holocaust comparisons at the Anchorage Assembly

In his statement on Thursday he said he should have chosen his words more carefully.

“If I offended anyone, I am truly sorry,” he said.

Bronson’s first few months in office have been marked by a series of sharp conflicts with the Assembly. He began the series of meetings on the ordinance Tuesday with strong language, calling mandatory masking an affront to personal liberty. As the crowd in the room became more unruly, he expressed sympathy with their points of view but urged them to be respectful. By Wednesday the rhetoric and behavior escalated. There were four arrests.

A man waves a paper reading “Maaaaaaaask Tyranny” while waiting in line to testify on the proposed Anchorage mask mandate on Sept. 29,2021. (Wesley Early/AKPM)

RELATED: Emotions high as testimony begins on Anchorage Assembly’s proposed mask mandate

In his statement on Thursday, he said, “Every member of the Assembly loves Anchorage. Being called to serve in public office means you want to make your community a better place. That is certainly why I chose to run for mayor, to make sure our city moves forward and becomes the city we all know it can be. But we cannot achieve that if we shout each other down, insult our neighbors, and use profanity and offensive language to describe one another. It is counterproductive and creates a toxic environment where nothing can get done. So, for those who gather in opposition to this ordinance, I ask you, please keep it civil.”

He asked the meeting participants to debate the mask rule based on its merits, rather than making personal or profane remarks.

“Members of the Assembly, you have my full support in asking for calm tonight, and my pledge to work with you to ensure all voices are heard in a way that respects everyone as equals. My faith compels me to follow the Golden Rule, and I would ask the same from everyone here tonight,” the statement said.

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