A Minnesota city council has come under fire after banning the Pledge of Allegiance from its meetings because members feel that patriotism has become weaponized.
City officials claim the pledge could cause offense to the “increasingly diverse community” who view patriotic acts as “not welcoming.”
During a June 17 meeting, the St. Louis Park City Council voted 5 to 0 to eradicate reciting the pledge at its meetings.
However, due to public backlash, officials are reportedly reconsidering their harsh decision.
St. Louis Park Mayor Jake Spano announced that the council has plans to revisit the vote during the next meeting.
“Historically, when a decision is made by the council, it’s over and we move on but after hearing from more people than I can count in the last day (many admittedly not from SLP), I asked my colleagues to revisit this decision and a majority of them agreed,” Spano said.
St. Louis Park City Councilman Tim Brausen originally told reporters, “Unfortunately, some of us feel like patriotism has been so politicized that it’s almost used as a weapon against people.”
Theblaze.com reports: Brausen also said that the pledge was apparently contentious dating back to even the 1980s, and voiced his hopes that the move to drop the pledge wouldn’t be too “controversial.”
“Our community tends to be a very welcoming and increasingly diverse community, and we believe our citizens will understand,” he reasoned. “I don’t think we’re going to be any less welcoming by not starting our meeting out with the standard ritual.”
Brausen also pointed out that he believed the pledge could be intimidating or offensive to new area residents because of the immigration battle raging between the Democrats and the Republicans in Washington, D.C.
“We’ve had some racial equity initiatives going on in the city of St. Louis Park for a while where we’re trying to get more diverse communities and historically less engaged communities to come and participate in our public process,” he explained. “Given the current Washington politics that are going on now, there’s a lot of people that are afraid of our government, and we worry about that.”
Councilwoman Anne Mavity — who was responsible for proposing the measure — agreed, and pointed to other cities in Minnesota that don’t say the pledge prior to city council measures. The Star Tribune, however, checked Mavity’s claim, and found that only two cities in the metropolitan area had elected to stop saying the pledge.
St. Louis Park Mayor Jake Spano — who was not in attendance at the June 17 meeting — said that if he were there, he would have been the sole dissenting voice against the measure.
“While I’ve never been a fan of doing things just beceause that’s the way things have always been done, I’ve always used the last six words [of the Pledge of Allegiance] — ‘with liberty and justice for all’ — as a reminder to me that we need to make our community more open and welcoming for all our neighbors, not just a select few.”
The new rule will go into effect just in time for the next meeting, set to be held July 15.
How did people respond?
According to the outlet, many residents were outraged by the council’s decision to drop the pledge from its meetings.
One resident said, “It’s always been tradition here since I’ve been watching the city council meetings back in the late ’80s. They’ve always done the Pledge of Allegiance. It’s kind of automatic, or traditional.”
Another resident called the decision “obnoxious.”
“My fear for this council is that it’s all about image and not substance,” the resident complained.