A Minnesota city council unanimously dropped the Pledge of Allegiance from its meetings over fears it’s racist and could hurt the feelings of people afraid of Donald Trump.
The move by St. Louis Park officials, in Rep. Ilhan Omar’s congressional district, is part of the city’s “racial equality initiative.”
“Our community tends to be a very welcoming and increasingly diverse community, and we believe our citizens will understand,” councilmember Tim Brausen tells the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “I don’t think we’re going to be any less welcoming by not starting our meeting out with the standard ritual.”
“We’ve had some racial equity initiatives going on in the city of St. Louis Park for awhile where we’re trying to get more diverse communities and historically less engaged communities to come and participate in our public process,” Braunsen 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.”
Others tagged the Pledge as divisive and a waste of time.
“I want to make sure that we are welcoming to everyone in our community, and so I just felt that was an unnecessary component to include every single week in our work,” councilmember Anne Mavity tells the Star Tribune.
The decision to remove the Pledge was originally on the “consent agenda,” meaning it would be passed automatically without a vote because every councilmember unanimously agreed on it ahead of time.
Braunsen pulled it off the consent agenda and held a public vote to make sure everyone saw them actively drop the Pledge from meetings.
St. Louis Park Mayor Jake Spano opposed the move, but was not present for the vote.
“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,” he tells the Star Tribune.
While St. Louis Park officials frequently refer to their city as “diverse,” Census data show it’s 83 percent white and only 3.8 percent Latino.
Though liberals claim the Pledge could alienate and terrorize legal immigrants, the Pledge is part of every citizenship ceremony and reciting it is often the proudest moment of an immigrant’s naturalization ceremony.