Minnesota City Council drops Pledge of Allegiance in protest, now reconsidering after blowback

Liz Sawyer, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

The St. Louis Park City Council will reconsider its controversial decision to drop recital of the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag at its meetings following pushback from constituents.

Elected leaders voted 5-0 to stop recitation — a longtime ritual marking the beginning of official meetings — on June 17, citing a desire to accommodate the city’s newest and more diverse residents.

Mayor Jake Spano and Council Member Thom Miller were absent and did not vote on the measure. Spano told the Star Tribune that he didn’t support removing the pledge.

Late Thursday evening, Spano tweeted that the seven-member body will soon resume discussions on the matter.

“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 wrote. “As such, we will be discussing this issue at our next city council meeting on July 8th at 6:30 in the council chambers at City Hall.”

A city spokeswoman confirmed that elected officials made that call “after hearing many comments from the community.”

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

However, a spot check of metro and outstate cities found that most of them — Blaine, Brooklyn Center, Burnsville, Duluth, Eden Prairie, Mankato, Maplewood, Rochester, St. Cloud, St. Paul, Stillwater and Wayzata — include the pledge as part of the council meeting agenda. The pledge is not said at council meetings in Minneapolis and Edina.

According to U.S. Census data from 2018, St. Louis Park has a population of just over 49,000 residents. Of that total, 83% are white, 7.7% are black, 3.8% are Latino, 3.7% are Asian and 3.3% cite two or more races. In Minnesota as a whole, 83.7% are white, 5.9% are black, 4.7% are Asian, 2.8% claim two or more races and 1% are American Indian, according to the most recent American Community Survey.

Council Member Tim Brausen doesn’t recall receiving any complaints about the pledge, but said the meaning behind the tradition has changed since 1980, when city officials began saying the pledge during the Iran hostage crisis.

“Unfortunately, some of us feel like patriotism has been so politicized that it’s almost used as a weapon against people,” he said.

Staff writer Zoe Jackson contributed to this report. Liz Sawyer • 612-673-4648


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