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The Latest: Republican says assault allegations overblown

July 11, 2019

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Latest on Alaska Native woman alleging assault by Wasilla mayor (all times local):

1:35 p.m.

Alaska House Minority spokesman Zach Freeman says an activist’s claim of assault by him and the mayor of a small town has been blown out of proportion.

Haliehana (hay-lee-hah-nah) Stepetin filed a complaint with Wasilla police Thursday, saying Freeman and Wasilla Mayor Bert Cottle grabbed her arm as protesters took over a legislative seating area during a contentious session taking place in two cities.

Freeman says in a statement that “in the moment, no one knew if the individuals were planning to harm members of the Legislature.” He tells The Associated Press the encounter “was a reaction.”

About 20 minority Republicans have refused to join a majority of lawmakers in Juneau, where fellow legislators are attempting to override Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s budget vetoes.

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12:00 p.m.

An Alaska Native activist says she was assaulted by the mayor of a small town as protesters took over a seating area intended for lawmakers during a contentious session of the Alaska Legislature that’s taking place in two cities.

Haliehana (hay-lee-hah-nah) Stepetin filed a citizen’s complaint with Wasilla police Thursday.

Stepetin alleges Wasilla Mayor Bert Cottle grabbed her arm without her permission Wednesday as she attempted to take an empty seat at the gathering of Republicans. Her complaint alleges House Minority spokesman Zach Freeman also grabbed her arm in an incident captured by photos and video.

Messages left with police and Cottle’s office weren’t immediately returned.

About 20 minority Republicans have refused to join a majority of lawmakers in Juneau, where they are attempting to override Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s budget vetoes.

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