Anchorage, Alaska — A group calling itself “Alaska Women Reject Palin” held an anti-Sarah Palin rally Saturday, despite receiving threatening phone calls last week. Palin is the vice presidential candidate, running with John McCain, on the Republican ticket in the American presidential election to be held on Nov. 4.
On Wednesday, the group sent a press release to the local media about the rally. The press release, a copy of which was obtained by Wikinews, says that Alaska Women Reject Palin is a group “who challenge the claim that Palin’s value systems and ideals reflect all women and middle-class American families, and who urge voters to scrutinize Palin’s politics, and decide for themselves if hers is the example by which they and their families want to live.”
“The whole thing grew out of frustration,” Charla Sterne, one of Alaska Women Reject Palin’s group members and an organizer of the rally, told The Washington Post. “Last week this was just ten women sitting around talking about this perception that all of Alaska supports Sarah Palin. We apparently hit a nerve and started a movement.”
Eddie Burke, a KBYR talk radio host, broadcast the names and contact information of two of the group’s members on the air.
“They’re a bunch of socialist maggots, that’s what I’m going to call them — socialist maggots, that’s what they are, a bunch of socialist baby-killing maggots,” Burke said on his radio show, according to local television news station KTUU 2.
Burke says he’s conservative and a “Palinista,” but on Thursday he admitted to KTUU news that he “… was probably a little over the top.”
According to KTUU, Burke encouraged his listeners to call the two organizers listed in the press release.
Burke called the document public, but one organizer objected to the release of information on ethical grounds.
“I was honestly shocked because I couldn’t believe that a member of the media would take information that I think is pretty standard in a press release and use it for what seems like pretty unethical purposes, for one thing,” an organizer told KTUU.
The organizer’s name was not released by KTUU, and her image was distorted on television broadcasts.
KTUU broadcast part of one message sent to an organizer, “You liberals need to get a life. What is wrong with you? You think you speak for everybody? You don’t speak for nobody but your individual, stupid selves.”
Alaska Public Radio published portions of three messages, including the one broadcast by KTUU.
“[a]nd don’t go around and tell people that you are standing up for all the women of Alaska,” one woman said, “that’s not right. … “
“I just heard on Eddie Burke about you,” another woman said, “you people are disgusting, how can you call yourself a woman.”
Both organizers said their voice mail systems were “full of messages.”
“We were bombarded with all kinds of hateful, abusive, intimidating phone calls,” organizer Sterne told the Anchorage Daily News. It not clear if Sterne is the same woman interviewed by KTUU, but Alaska Public Radio said that Sterne considered not attending the rally, but decided to go through with it.
According to KTUU, the two organizers contacted police, and were told that they could file an alleged-harassment report, but as of Thursday, had not done so. KTUU cites Anchorage Police Department Lt. Paul Honeman as saying that Burke’s on-air encouragement instigated the harassment. As of Thursday, Burke has not been punished in any way.
According to the Anchorage Daily News, word of the rally spread via the internet and as many as 1500 people attended, both for and against Palin.
The rally started just hours after Palin spoke in downtown Anchorage’s Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center, to a crowd estimated between 1000 and 1500. The event was dubbed “Welcome Home Sarah.”
“Alaska, I’ll be doing it for you,” Palin said. “Going forth in these days ahead, Alaska, I pledge to do my level best and to be worthy of the confidence this beautiful state has put in me.” Angie Doroff, a rally organizer said she “pleased and surprised” at the turnout.
“We’re not alone. A lot of people are worried about the nomination of Sarah Palin,” Doroff told the Associated Press.
Comments about Palin at the second rally were mainly negative, but views differed among those gathered in support of Palin.
“Sarah Palin frightens the hell out of me. I don’t want her anywhere near the White House,” Marybeth Holleman of Anchorage told the Anchorage Daily News.
According to the Anchorage Daily News, supporters of Palin cite the good she has done as Governor of Alaska, including a check all Alaskans received from the state.
“I’ll bet on the other side none of those people are going to reject that and send it back,” Rick Case said of the $1,200 check.
Alison Till, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, criticized Palin on what Till called her lack of reliance on “solid and unbiased science” when making decision about energy, global warming, the teaching of creationism in public schools and her refusal to put polar bears on the list of endangered species.
“She is unqualified,” Till told the Anchorage Daily News.
At the Palin rally, views were different.
“I’m all in for Sarah,” Tracy Jones told the Anchorage Daily News. “This is really exciting. I watched this town go from crayons to perfume. I think it’s fresh, exciting, and I’m really proud of her.”
“This is a historic moment,” 84-year-old first-time political-rally-attendee Pauline Kee said. “This is the most important day for Sarah and the state.”
Wikinews has sent an e-mail to Burke, but as of midnight Sunday, he has not responded.