KOTZEBUE, Alaska (KTUU) - The father of a murdered 10-year-old girl from Kotzebue wants her story to help lower the staggering rates of violence against Alaska Native women.
“People are saying no more, speak up,” said Scotty Barr, Ashley Johnson-Barr’s father. “No more silence.”
Johnson-Barr’s death shook the community of Kotzebue and Barr says it’s helping to illuminate issues of violence that have been hidden in the shadows for decades.
In January, Barr was named to the governor’s Executive Clemency Advisory Committee, a body that reviews pardon requests. He and daughter Aaliyah were later invited to the governor’s first State of the State address in Juneau.
“We are heartbroken and mourn with you over this senseless loss,” said the governor at the time to a joint-sitting of the Alaska Legislature.
Referencing Johnson-Barr and David Grunwald, the governor said the loss for the two families “is going to be the catalyst that pushes us forward into a safer Alaska.”
To improve public safety, Barr wants villages and boroughs to work with troubled young men to break the cycle of abuse. “Be there for them, listen to them, and find ways to change their hearts somehow.”
For Barr, the thousands of people who heard his daughter’s story and continue to contact him with support is a sign of the possibility of progress.
“I 100% believe that she is Alaska’s angel.”
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This is the third of a three-part series looking at the search for Ashley Johnson-Barr, how her family is coping and her legacy.