In Alaska, the outpouring of public protest about George Floyd’s death by asphyxiation was heartfelt and far-reaching, as it was throughout the rest of our nation, and here, there was one big positive; it was peaceful. There was no destruction of property.

On May 30, traffic going down Northern Lights Boulevard was slowed by young people racing ahead of cars and stepping out into the street waving their protest placards. The dynamism was contagious. Drivers beeped and waved back expressing approval and support. No doubt the moment was enhanced by the break from the social isolation imposed by the pandemic. But the shared support for Black Lives Matter was palpable.

The next weekend in Palmer, 1,400 young people gathered to express their outrage. They had been joined by others in the Mat-Su region as well as a contingent from Anchorage.

To take a statewide view, the peaceful protests extended throughout Alaska to communities, large and small, most populated by people of several different races. There has never been a social movement in Alaska quite like the protests of these last few weeks!

This amount of protest and its youthful, diverse composition is vastly different from what happened during the days of Martin Luther King when protesters were predominantly African American adults. This time in Alaska and elsewhere protesters were of many races. And they were young! In Anchorage, the initial organizer who filed for the permit was a 17-year-old high school boy. In Palmer, the filer was an 18-year-old girl.

As former President Barack Obama has urged, now is the time to turn protest into productive actions to prevent more wrongful death.