Something important happened last Friday, that made me proud to call Anchorage my home.


Several hundred Alaskans came together in Midtown for a peaceful demonstration. A demonstration that showed a couple of things.


One, that the killing of two black men at the hands of police in Louisiana and Minnesota had an impact here in Alaska. And two, that the deadly attack on Dallas police had an impact as well.


Alaskans expressed anger. They expressed fear. But through the fear and anger, they also expressed unity.


I’ve lived in Anchorage for more than 30 years now. I’ve seen a lot of changes in the Anchorage Police Department and I’ve known a lot of cops. And I’ve never known one, that wanted to draw their weapon and take a life.


That doesn’t mean that the APD doesn’t have work to do.


I’ve seen community policing come and go, as the size of our force has grown and diminished.


Our police force, like many others in major cities, is predominately white, and not representative of the diverse community it serves. APD Chief Tolley and Mayor Berkowitz are aware of this and are looking for ways to increase diversity in the recruiting process. The more young men and women of color who see police as a positive force in their community the more successful those efforts will be.


At the same time, communities have a responsibility to teach respect for those in blue who take an oath to protect and serve them and all too often back that oath up with their own lives.


I’ve taken rides with enough officers over the years to tell you, most of us have no idea of the amount of patience and professionalism it takes to get through a shift. Never knowing if that shift will be your last.


If you think I’m overstating the danger, you haven’t been paying attention.


Tuesday night, Anchorage police used deadly force and killed a man, who they say assaulted a store employee and came at them with hatchets and axes.


If that’s the case, which an investigation will determine, police were not only expected to protect themselves but were totally justified in using deadly force.


The suspect was white. He could have as easily been black, or native, or one of dozens of ethnicities that make up Anchorage.


Yes, that life mattered. But in that moment, so too did the life of the officers.


I hope that we, as a community can find unity in that belief. Just as we do in Alaska. And America.


Black lives matter. Blue lives matter. All lives matter.


John’s opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of Denali Media or its employees.