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Gay riots over gay rights in Anchorage after vote? Don't believe it

Jill Burke
Creative Commons photo

With election day upon us, cries for and against expanding Anchorage's anti-discrimination law hit their crescendos. As both sides make the final push, the emotional issue took a bizarre turn Tuesday in the blogosphere, where a rumor about a fear of “gay riots” in the wake of a potential Prop 5 demise popped up.

It's not true, according to Anchorage police and Guardian Security, the firm mentioned in the post.

The way the story goes, someone from Guardian Security had learned that all of the company's guard's were being dispatched to guard local churches election night to guard against gay riots that would ensue if Prop 5 were to fail. This person is said to have then called one of Anchorage's local gay bars – Mad Myrna's – to warn of the development and urge the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community to resist any urge for civil unrest.

The rumor has “no basis in fact” and is “totally false,” said Guardian Vice President Mike Heath. While the company does have churches as regular clients and Guardian guards sometimes work at houses of worship of various faiths and denominations, the company has no special plans or extraordinary effort in place for election night, he said. One church is getting extra daytime security, but only because it's a polling precinct and only until the polls close at 8 p.m., Heath said.

By mid-day Tuesday, Lt. Dave Parker with the Anchorage Police Department also had not heard about any riot threats. If something like that were to happen “it would be the first case of election violence like that we have ever seen,” he said.

Occasionally, Anchorage police do gear up for anticipated problems, as when the International Whaling Commission met in Anchorage in 2007. In 2003, police showed up at a teen dance in riot gear to stop a series of fights that broke out throughout the night. The Fur Ball, which had hundreds of teens in attendance, was an event targeted at 14-19 year-olds during the city's annual Fur Rendezvous festival held every February.

Police are always ready for trouble, he said, but aren't expecting any related to the election. “The democratic process depends on people submitting their will to the will of the majority,” he said.

Contact Jill Burke at jill(at)alaskadispatch.com