Chair, Vice Chair of Human Rights Commission resign amidst bumper sticker controversy

Brent Linegar points out a bumper sticker emblazoned with the phrase, "Black Rifles Matter." The sticker, and actions taken by a lead member of the State Commission for Human Rights staff, has garnered controversy over the past few weeks.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Two members of the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights have submitted their resignations after a controversy in which the commission’s executive director left her business card on a truck with a sticker she found offensive, asking the driver to not park his truck in the state’s lot.

Commission Chair Brandon Nakasato submitted his resignation Tuesday morning, effective May 1, to allow the commission to elect a new chairperson. Freddie R. Olin IV, the commission’s vice chair, submitted his resignation on Monday, also effective May 1.

Nakasato said in his resignation letter that he is hopeful that “new leadership at ASCHR will allow for us to more quickly recover from this recent controversy and restore public trust in our ability to achieve our organization’s mission.”

“The past three years volunteering with the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights have been a privilege which I have cherished and a responsibility which I have always endeavored to honorably meet,” Nakasato wrote.

Olin’s resignation letter cited family reasons for his departure. “I had planned to fulfill my five-year term with wholehearted participation as a willing member,” Olin wrote, but he said his fiancée has been accepted into a graduate program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Indigenous Languages Initiative Graduate program, with a full scholarship. “This opportunity is so important for my fiancée, our family, and my fiancee’s home community of Shishmaref, I will in turn willingly sacrifice my professional engagements in Alaska for the next two years,” Olin wrote.

The agency’s executive director, Marti Buscaglia, submitted her resignation Monday, effective April 26. Her resignation came after the commission decided on a 15-day suspension without pay and written apology from Buscaglia.

Some lawmakers had said Buscaglia’s resignation wasn’t enough, and that commissioners willing to keep her on at the agency should also no longer be in state service.

Channel 2's Jill Burke contributed to this story.

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