ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The executive director of the State of Alaska Human Rights Commission submitted her resignation Monday following controversy over a bumper sticker emblazoned with the phrase "Black Rifles Matter."
Marti Buscalgia became the center of debate after an incident in which she left her state-issued business card and a note on the truck of Brent Linegar, which bore the "Black Rifles Matter" bumper sticker.
"I'm not the first person to consider it a discriminatory statement," Buscaglia told Channel 2 Monday. "Unfortunately, it all blew up, and took on a life of its own."
A screenshot of a Facebook post to the Human Rights Commission's account also surfaced, in which Buscaglia had apparently posted a photo of the bumper sticker with the caption "In what world is this okay?"
"I mean, is it racist just because it rhymes with another organization?" Linegar said. "That's an extreme stretch, and I think that goes to people who are finding any way just to be offended."
Buscaglia, who was suspended for 15 days on Friday as a result of the complaint, confirmed the authenticity of a resignation letter obtained by Channel 2 News on Monday.
"I have been contemplating retirement for quite a while now and I believe the time has come," Buscaglia's letter says in part. "I truly believe in the best interest of the Commission for me to leave now, so that the Black Rifles Matter controversy can be put behind us and the Commission can continue to do their excellent work."
Buscaglia said her resignation will be effective April 26.
"Its become so big that people are calling for defunding," Buscaglia said. "That commission does excellent work in the state, and I decided it was in the best interest of both parties that I step down."
In a statement following news of the resignation, House minority members issued a statement saying Buscaglia's resignation didn't go far enough.
“This is a great victory for free speech and for Alaskans," Rep. Colleen Sullivan-Leonard, R-Wasilla said in the statement. “Anyone who enables this sort of civil rights violation, as the Commission did by retaining Buscaglia in the first place, has breached the public’s trust and need not be serving in government. I call on Governor Dunleavy to take swift action in removing the commissioners responsible for this egregious oversight.”
This is a developing story. Please check back for details.