Dozens of citizens crash City Hall meeting, recite Pledge of Allegiance after City Council scrapped it

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Zoë Jackson

Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Several dozen people gathered outside the St. Louis Park City Hall on Monday night to say the Pledge of Allegiance to protest the city’s decision to stop saying it before meetings.

Most carried and waved American flags as they recited the pledge and many of them filed into the City Council chambers, where a study session was scheduled Monday night. No vote is expected and public testimony will not be taken.

The pledge isn’t listed on the agenda as a topic for discussion, only as an item for future scheduling.

The City Council voted 5-0 on June 17 to do away with the pledge, due to concerns that some residents in the “increasingly diverse community” may find it unwelcoming. Mayor Jake Spano and Council Member Thom Miller were absent and did not vote.

The news of the council’s decision has been met with local and national outcry, and hundreds of people have called or e-mailed the city to protest the decision. Mayor Spano announced on Twitter later that week that the council would be revisiting its decision.

Though public comment is generally not taken at study session meetings, some felt that the gravity of the controversy should have warranted an exception.

Jennifer Carnahan, who chairs the state Republican Party said her request to comment before Monday night’s meeting was denied. She recently moved to St. Louis Park.

“I understand there’s probably process and procedures that they go through with meetings, but in this instance, this has become national news. And it has upset people all over the country, not just in our state,” Carnahan said. “So to not allow a few individuals to speak, even if it’s just for 30 seconds or 60 seconds, kind of boggles my mind. That that is the point of democracy, giving people a voice, and they’re silencing the voices.”

The measure, which is scheduled to take effect July 15, was sponsored by Council Member Anne Mavity, who said that about half the cities in Minnesota do not require the Pledge of Allegiance to be said at council meetings.

The pledge is not said at council meetings in Minneapolis and Edina, but a spot check of other prominent metro and outstate cities found that many of them do, including Duluth, Moorhead, St. Cloud and St. Paul.

Zoë Jackson • 612-673-7112?

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