A couple who say they've been harassed after an Anchorage Assembly member posted a misleading blog post suggesting they could be associated with a supposed terrorist compound in the Mat-Su Borough demanded an apology at Tuesday's Assembly meeting.
In the emotional exchange, the Assembly member, Amy Demboski, defended herself and said she'd done nothing wrong. She wouldn't say she was sorry, but the chair of the Assembly tearfully apologized to the couple on behalf of the entire body.
Gregory Jones and his wife, Maleika Jones, said they wanted to speak to the Assembly in response to what he called "negative propaganda" shared and promoted by Demboski through her talk show last week.
Demboski posted a link on her show's Facebook page Friday night to a blog about "Islamic compounds" across the United States that were supposedly "stockpiling weapons" after the election of Donald Trump.
Without identifying Jones by name, Demboski wrote that the group responsible for the "compounds" had a member in Alaska, and that he had run for political office — a description that clearly matched Jones. Jones and his wife grew up as members of the group, and Jones ran for the Alaska House of Representatives this year. Jones also appeared on Demboski's show while he was a candidate.
At Tuesday night's Assembly meeting, Jones said Demboski's sharing of the blog post and discussion on her show led to "Islamophobia and hatred toward Muslim people." His wife, Maleika, accused Demboski of prompting people to try to find her home.
"I need to know why this was done and I need assurance that you all are going to help me stay safe in Anchorage, Alaska," Maleika Jones said, her voice shaking.
Speaking from the Assembly dais, Demboski said she had shared a clip of a segment on Fox News. But she said she never made statements to directly accuse Jones of being a terrorist.
"What is being drummed up, simply didn't happen," Demboski said. She said the issue had turned into a "circus on statements that are false," which she said was "inappropriate."
Maleika Jones said the issue wasn't that Demboski had called them terrorists. She said she now lives in fear that people were trying to find her and her family, after Demboski had associated them with an organization.
Demboski said people should go back and listen to an hourlong segment she did with Jones.
"He is a nice guy, I disagreed with him on policy but he is a nice guy," Demboski said.
The Joneses got a standing ovation after the exchange. Then Greg Jones demanded an apology from the Assembly and for Demboski to be censured.
The Assembly's chair, Elvi Gray-Jackson, explained that she couldn't censure Demboski or apologize for her.
"But I apologize as the chair of this Assembly for the inconvenience and fear you are now living in," Gray-Jackson said.
"It brings tears to my eyes, it really does," she added, choking up. "I'm so sorry."