Originally published December 2020 and updated in April.
Last December, Anchorage resident Anna Hutchinson saw an unsightly sight — a Guillotine sitting in downtown Anchorage. She pulled out her phone, snapped a picture of the bizarre spectacle, and shared it on Twitter.
The guillotine’s appearance in our city came as the Anchorage Assembly was doing battle with a host of Covid deniers, anti-maskers, and people opposed to emergency orders and mandates. The photograph of the unsightly sight was widely shared, not just on Twitter but across Alaska social media as a whole.
The guillotine displayed the words “Sic Semper Tyrannis” on it, which means “death to tyrants” or “down with the tyrant.” Who placed the guillotine in downtown Anchorage remains unknown.
As it turns out, the word “tyrant” was frequently used by some individuals associated with the Save Anchorage Facebook group, which according to The Appeal, has “held a large protest outside the city assembly on Aug. 25; some protesters arrived carrying firearms. Numerous posts in the group compared Berkowitz to Hitler and threatened violence against city officials. According to the FBI, one Save Anchorage member named Aaron James Mileur stormed the U.S Capitol on Jan. 6 and posted videos from inside the building in the Facebook group.”
In response to a social media post made at the time Anchorage Assemblywoman Jamie Allard became embroiled in a scandal surrounding her defense of Nazi terminology, The Blue Alaskan responded to a Twitter thread that offered a form to file an ethics complaint against the Assemblywoman in addition to a comment which also noted this:
“I was going to look into that tomorrow between her Nazi comments and then posting an email correspondence from an upset constituent on her Facebook page who is now getting harassed by her followers I have a lot to say.”
My response to the above-referenced thread had a picture of the guillotine attached to it, reminding others that Anchorage had one — and was posted with the intent of demonstrating that given those defending Nazi terminology and the alleged harassment of one of the Assemblywoman’s constituents by some members of the Save Anchorage group — that none of these things should be found surprising. Anchorage, in fact, did have its own guillotine with a phrase often used by members of the Save Anchorage group and those who were angry with the Anchorage Assembly over Covid-19 mandates and restrictions. It seems highly unlikely the guillotine was placed as a symbol of love for our city.
There’s nothing wrong with pointing these things out, especially when anti-Semitism is being hotly debated and when those accusations revolve around an elected official whose defenders attempted to justify her defense of Nazi terminology.
But “Reclaim Midtown,” which is an administrator of the Save Anchorage Facebook group, either missed that connection or intentionally obfuscated both the picture and the tweet when they wrote an anonymous blogger had pointed out the guillotine for a local assembly member in a screenshot captured from the Save Anchorage Facebook group. That screenshot has been passed on to an outstanding Anchorage lawyer for review.
As an individual who abhors violence in all forms, I find the post made by Reclaim Midtown disgusting and abhorrent but unsurprising.
Either way, it is a rich allegation to make, given their own association with the Save Anchorage Facebook group known for its conspiracy theories. Many Anchorage social media users have described experiencing online bullying from the group. We’re talking about a group in which some members celebrated or condoned the January 6, 2021 attack on our nation’s Capitol.
Obviously, our city still has a problem to contend with, as we learned recently that swastikas were placed at the entrance of a local gay bar and the Alaska Jewish Museum.
Still, our very own neighbors continue to defend these hate symbols — and the guillotine placed downtown with the phrase “death to tyrants” on it was rightfully seen as a symbol of hate by many in our city — and whose placement also revealed the true character of those who profess to be for ‘liberty.’