‘We live in fear’: Former House candidate expresses concern over post made by Demboski
An Anchorage Assembly member is caught up in a war of words that has one man saying he fears for his family’s safety. The subject matter is radical Islam, the Assembly member is Amy Demboski and the man who’s worried is Gregory Jones, a former Democratic House candidate in the Valley who is also a Muslim.
Demboski said it started when she interviewed Jones as a candidate for Alaska State House District 8 on her radio show. She said she’d done a lot of research on a group called Muslims in America, of which Jones said he is a member. She said she’d heard the group had ties to radical Islam and she asked Jones about it on the show. She felt she had every right.
“I think the fact someone even questions someone’s affiliation in the group is ridiculous,” Demboski said. “I mean that’s what happens to candidates all the time, if you are a member of a group or you take a position you are asked about it and I think that’s fair.”
Last week Demboski said she saw a Fox News report on Islam in which the same Muslim group was supposedly stockpiling weapons at compounds across the country, including here in Alaska. Demboski posted a link to her radio Facebook page and questioned why local media weren’t covering the story, especially since a local candidate had admitted being a member of the group.
On the post she wrote, “He seemed like a nice guy but doesn’t the group, associations and past history deserve at least a little attention?”
Despite the reference to the candidate, Demboski said she wasn’t targeting Jones, only raising a red flag about a group she says the FBI has concerns about and of which he is a member.
But Jones feels differently. He said he is not a terrorist, his home in the Valley is not a compound and he doesn’t know anyone stockpiling weapons. He said he worries his family may become targets of hate.
“If they have people out here looking for Muslims in Wasilla and they are under suspicion, then that endangers my family,” Jones said. “With their extremist right-wing ideology, that is a fear. It’s a fear that is taking place in America. A lot of people are afraid of what these people want to do.”
Demboski said she plans to look into whether there are compounds in Alaska and find out the facts, but she said it’s a discussion Alaskans shouldn’t shy away from just because it’s uncomfortable.
There was also a call from several groups, including the Alaska Young Democrats and the head of Alaska’s NAACP, to take a stand against what they see as Islamophobia. They urged members to come to the Assembly meeting Tuesday night. Several hundred people expressed interest in attending.
At the Assembly meeting, Jones and his wife spoke and asked for an apology from Demboski. Jones’ wife said some had commented on Demboski’s Facebook post about visiting their home, saying, “let’s go find this terrorist camp, and let’s go do away with it.” She said the fear her family now faces is not why they came to Alaska.
As seen in the video above, Demboski reiterated that she thought Jones was “a nice guy,” and stated she didn’t claim they were terrorists or lived in a compound.
“Using this forum for what is turning into a circus on statements that are false is inappropriate,” she said. “I truly appreciate the Joneses coming and talking and expressing their opinion, but I really wish they would go back and listen to the audio clip.”
Assembly Chair Elvi Gray-Jackson ended the discussion by apologizing to the Joneses, but not on Demboski’s behalf.
“I apologize as the chair of this Assembly for your inconvenience, and for the fear you are now living in,” she said.
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