The phrase, "raise the hue and cry," has its roots in 13th century England. More than 800 years ago, English villagers who witnessed a crime understood their responsibility to report it and to assist in bringing the criminal to justice. They did this by raising the hue and cry -- using whatever means possible to alert the community through shouts of alarm, blowing a horn, or ringing church bells. Able-bodied witnesses were responsible for pursuing the criminal on foot or on horseback, and helping bring them to justice.
If witnesses did nothing, they risked being held liable for the very crime they witnessed.
In communities across Alaska, crimes are taking place against our women and children -- and sometimes, our men. The reported rate of forcible rape per capita is two and a half times higher in Alaska than anywhere else in the nation. Our children are at six times the risk for sexual assault. The Anchorage Police Department reports that, in 2009, 61 percent of crimes targeting individuals were domestic violence-related. The fact that we are in the midst of an epidemic that threatens our families, communities, cultures, and even the very future of our state, is indisputable.
Some Alaskans believe these crimes are specific to a culture, region, or lifestyle. They are wrong. Women, children and men of every age, race, income, lifestyle, faith, culture, and region have experienced the pain of domestic violence and sexual assault. And no matter what --- no matter who -- no one ever deserves to be a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault. Every human being has purpose and value and is worth defending -- and we must do whatever we can to stop those who would bully, assault, or abuse any Alaskan into thinking otherwise.
Some Alaskans believe these crimes are none of their business, that they do not have the right or the responsibility to intervene. They are wrong. As Alaskans, we must take responsibility for our own future, and chart a healthier, more respectful course for our state and our people.
Alaska: it is time to raise the hue and cry across the Great Land.
Every Alaskan can get involved in two ways -- first, by committing to report domestic violence or sexual assault wherever you see or suspect it, and to intervene when you can do so without increasing danger to the victim.
Secondly, Alaskans can participate in a statewide movement beginning March 31 -- "Alaskans Choose Respect." My administration is partnering with non-profits, stakeholders, churches, native corporations, legislators and communities across the state to stage a statewide effort to raise awareness, call for change, and encourage all Alaskans to choose respect as a part of our statewide culture -- a value we will live and pass on to the next generation.
"Alaskans Choose Respect" events will take place at various times on March 31 in at least 18 communities across the state. Communities will host rallies, marches, candlelight vigils, and potlatches, and it is our earnest hope that thousands of Alaskans will come together to raise the hue and cry -- and choose respect.
From Barrow to Ketchikan, Cordova to Unalaska, we will raise awareness and, by exerting positive peer pressure, we will fight to save lives, marriages, families, communities and cultures. Awareness leads to prevention, and prevention leads to breaking the cycle of fear, pain and shame, and ending the epidemic of domestic violence and sexual assault in Alaska.
Together we can forge a future where Alaskans live without fear -- where Alaskans live with hope and opportunity.
I invite you to join your fellow Alaskans in choosing respect on March 31 and choosing a new way forward for our great state.
To find out more about organizing an event in your community, please contact my office at 465-3500 or go to www.chooserespect.alaska.gov.