Decision to Stop Reciting Pledge of Allegiance Sparks ‘USA!’ Chant at City Council Meeting

By Zachary Stieber

A number of local residents attended a city council meeting in Minnesota this week, at one point exploding in a chant of “USA!”

St. Louis Park council members voted unanimously in June to stop reciting the Pledge of Allegiance before their meetings.

“Not everyone who does business with the city or has a conversation is a citizen,” Anne Mavity, one of the council members, told KARE 11 after the vote. “They certainly don’t need to come into city council chambers and pledge their allegiance to our country in order to tell us what their input is about a sidewalk in front of their home.”

The decision drew national attention, with President Donald Trump weighing in at one point.

“I think there’s more things to worry about than just the Pledge of Allegiance. You get excited about that, I hate to see what else you get excited about,” veteran Mike Thingvold told KARE 11.

The backlash prompted the council to ponder reinstating the pledge in a July 8 meeting.

Video footage from local broadcasters showed the crowd chanting “USA!” and waving American flags.

Nearly 100 protesters crammed into the meeting room to try to get the decision reversed, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

“Yes, we need to have conversations about inclusion, diversity. Absolutely,” said one of them, Tammy Hopps, as she passed out small American flags. “But we need to do it under this symbol.”

The crowd stood and repeated the pledge before the meeting, reported MPR.

Mayor Jake Spano, who has said he didn’t support the decision, asked the crowd to refrain from cheering or screaming during the meeting but many ignored him, repeatedly shouting.

Spano said that the council should have placed the issue in a study session for an in-depth discussion instead of going straight to a vote, adding that he’s spoken to a number of people since the June vote.

“I think it’s mainly planted or maybe cultivated in some people’s minds, the idea that somehow, people who are new to America don’t appreciate these things,” he said, reported the Star-Tribune.

Spano said he was out of town when the vote was conducted and asked the council to reverse the decision.

“It is OK for us to say, as a council, we didn’t think this would be that big of a deal, but clearly it is,” he said, according to MPR.

Mavity introduced a proposal that would have local residents and staff members from the city meet and try to figure out the next step.

“We have an opportunity and the responsibility to use this moment to start a conversation in St. Louis Park, on what it means for our residents in our community to be patriotic, and to live out our community values and principles,” said Mavity as the crowd booed, reported the Star-Tribune. She said the controversy is a distraction from more important issues.

“People are upset because evidently here in Minnesota we are playing around with their hallowed traditions,” said council member Tim Brausen, who was interrupted by shouts, reported WCCO.

The issue will be discussed again at the council’s study session on July 22.

According to WCCO, there’s no law in Minnesota that requires city council meetings to start with the Pledge of Allegiance, but most of the meetings in the 24 largest cities in the state do.

“I look at the Pledge of Allegiance as a way to kind of share those beliefs that we all want a better life,” said Mayor Jeff Lunde about the pledge being said at the Brooklyn Park City Council meetings. “We are very diverse here. We have many faiths, we have many religions, cultures, languages, and this is one of the things that pulls us all together.”