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Fairbanks Mourns Ginsburg


200 people assembled on the plaza in front of the Rabinowitz Courthouse in Fairbanks Saturday night. They came to a quickly-arranged vigil for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ginsburg died Friday evening due to complications of metastatic pancreas cancer. 

Organizer Janet Schichnes said her daughter sent her information about a vigil in Montana, and Schichnes wondered if anything was planned for Fairbanks.

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg was just one of the most amazing women that has lived in my lifetime, and I felt like we really needed her to honor her -- to come out and mourn together.”

She sent texts to 10 people, which snowballed into hundreds as the message was passed through organizations like the Jewish Community of Fairbanks and the NAACP.

Credit Robyne / KUAC
Jenifer Jolis lights a candle at vigil for Ruth Bader Ginsburg who died Friday, September 18, 2020.

“And I saw that all over the country people are gathering at their courthouses at 8 o’clock on Saturday night, and so, here we are.”

The Farthest North Girl Scouts promoted a gathering at Golden Heart Park, which merged into the vigil next door at the courthouse.

Several public figures, such as former state legislator David Guttenberg and City Council member Valerie Therrien made impromptu speeches.


In memory of Ruth, we need to get out and make sure we vote, our friends vote, our neighbors vote. You are here in her memory, that’s the most important thing you can do to live up to that commitment. Vote, take your neighbors to the polls, help them fill out their absentee ballot request. Just get them to vote.”


My heart broke when I saw the news yesterday. As an attorney, I always looked up to her. She didn’t even get a job after being first in her class at Columbia law school. And it was a struggle. And anyone who is young, a millennial, they need to realize that. And make sure they get out and vote.”

Credit Robyne / KUAC
Reverend Leslie Ahuvah Fails of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fairbanks leads the crowd in a call-and-response.

The Reverend Leslie Ahuvah Fails of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fairbanks led the crowd in a call and response prayer.

“In a rising tide of intolerance and hatred,”

“We dissent.”

“When we are told that some people are less deserving of civil rights than others,”

“We dissent.”

As the sun was setting after 8 p.m., people lit candles and mourned the Justice who was the longest-serving woman on the Supreme Court. Former House candidate Tonya Brown led the crowd in song.

“This little light of mine….”

Credit Robyne / KUAC