St. Louis Park, MN – The St. Louis Park City Council voted to drop the Pledge of Allegiance from their meeting agenda out of fear that the tradition was scaring away new residents in their community.
“Unfortunately, some of us feel like patriotism has been so politicized that it’s almost used as a weapon against people,” St. Louis Park City Councilman Tim Brausen told the Star Tribune.
Councilwoman Anne Mavity said that about half the cities in Minnesota don’t use the pledge at city council meetings when she proposed the measure.
But a fact check by the Star Tribune found that in the metro area, only Minneapolis and Edina had dropped the Pledge of Allegiance.
Blaine, Brooklyn Center, Burnsville, Duluth, Eden Prairie, Mankato, Maplewood, Rochester, St. Cloud, St. Paul, Stillwater, and Wayzata still begin meetings with the pledge, the Star Tribune reported.
The St. Louis Park City Council voted 5 to 0, with little discussion about the measure, at a meeting on June 17.
Initially, the matter had been placed on the “consent agenda” of items to be approved without debate, the Star Tribune reported.
However, Brausen said he pulled it off that agenda in order to ensure transparency.
He said he wasn’t aware of any complaints the council had received about saying the pledge, but said the meaning had changed since they had started saying it during the Iran hostage crisis in 1980, the Star Tribune reported.
St. Louis Park Mayor Jake Spano missed the meeting and the vote, but said that if he had been there, he would have voted against doing away with the Pledge of Allegiance.
“While I’ve never been a fan of doing things just because that’s the way things have always been done, I’ve always used the last six words [of the pledge] — ‘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,” Spano said.
Some residents were furious about the council’s change to future agendas.
Longtime St. Louis Park resident Dennis Moran said that he hadn’t heard about any complaints about the pledge from the community, the Star Tribune reported.
“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,” Moran said.
Resident Patti Carlson called the move by the city council “obnoxious,” according to the Star Tribune.
“My fear for this council is that it’s all about image and not substance,” Carlson said.
She said her grandparents wanted to become Americans when they immigrated to the United States and criticized the council’s desire to eliminate part of their history, the Star Tribune reported.
“I hope it’s not too controversial,” Brausen defended the council’s decision. “Our community tends to be a very welcoming and increasingly diverse community, and we believe our citizens will understand. I don’t think we’re going to be any less welcoming by not starting our meeting out with the standard ritual.”
He said he was concerned that the pledge was intimidating to newer residents because of the controversy surrounding immigration in Washington, DC, the Star Tribune reported.
“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 said. “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.”
The change will go into effect on July 15, the Star Tribune reported.