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Protesting Palin and Beck: Alaska's other 9/11 rally

Jill Burke

As Alaska's Sarah Palin made a surprise appearance at a Sept. 11 rally in Wasilla, another rally was in the works protesting her upcoming appearance with Fox's Glenn Beck Saturday night in Anchorage.

The sign-waving crowd of about 80 to 100 people in downtown Anchorage waved at motorists to the return honks of support and, on occasion, a middle finger extended in their direction.

At about noon Saturday, rally organizer and longtime Alaska activist Desa Jacobsen had the crowd gather around the veterans memorial on the Anchorage Park Strip. She asked for two minutes of silence to honor those who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Then she urged the crowd of about a hundred to sign a "blue ticket" to send Glenn Beck out of town -- reminiscent of how Alaska in its early history exiled undesirables.

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"Don't be afraid to show yourself when you are standing up against hate and fear," she told the crowd.

Jacobsen offered the mic to a fellow protestor who joined the rally only after driving by. Abdellatif Rochdi spoke of Islam's peaceful teachings and its loathing of violence. The 9/11 attackers, he emphatically told the crowd, don't represent the religion.

Rochdi has lived in Alaska three years. He fell in love with a woman during a visit to the state and moved north to be with her. He now lives in the village of Kokhanok, where he works as a special education teacher. He was in Anchorage to renew his green card with immigration officials.

"I am Muslim," he said. "I live here. I don't hate anybody and I have never hurt anyone."

Lynette Moreno-Hinz, dressed in Tlingit regalia with her three grandchildren in tow, also spoke at the rally, saying it was important to take a stand and "stop the hate."

A lone Palin-Beck supporter stood watch with her own sign at the far end of the crowd. Pam Siegfried, who came out to show her support against people who view Palin and Beck as racists, believes some people confuse criticism of President Obama, who happens to be black, with "secret racism."

"I'm glad a black person was elected president," Siegfried said. "I just wish it was someone else."

Jacobsen, the rally organizer, read from a nearly eight page prepared statement, heavy in religious overtones and the symbolism of 9/11. She denounced Beck, Palin and their support of Alaska GOP Senate candidate Joe Miller. Here's an excerpt from that speech:

Hope is a great gift. It is of almighty God. When Sarah Palin and Glen Beck mocked it and minimized it and caused others to publically ridicule it, it was clear that their choice was not hope, but hate. They foolishly projected that Almighty God was nothing more than a Breck Shampoo Jesus who votes only republican, loves and totes guns and rides in the back of the Tea Party bus. Never mind that this healer of nations humbly rode in on a donkey and commanded all to put away the sword and to feed the poor, the widows and the fatherless. To her folly, Sarah Palin was sadly mistaken when she insisted that God wrote on his hand too as though he was so short minded that he needed a reminder. No Sarah, the writing wasn't on His hand. It was on the wall. She must be cautious as her name may sadly go down as the great wall of shame for there is a chasm between prophesying for peace and pimping for hate. There is a difference between inspiration and incitement. There is a difference between compassion and cruel laughter.

Contact Jill Burke at jill(at)alaskadispatch.com.