Orono village hall

The City Council of Orono took a firm stance on the Pledge of Allegiance at their last meeting.

ORONO — The city of Orono took patriotic steps at a recent City Council meeting resolving to recite the Pledge of Allegiance before all public meetings.

The July 8 meeting started differently than past meetings. Instead of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and then approving the previous meeting’s minutes, the City Council jumped right into discussing a new resolution.

“The city of St. Louis Park had voted and decided not to say the Pledge of Allegiance at their council meetings,” Council member Richard F. Crosby II said while introducing the resolution to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at public meetings. “When I heard it, I was extremely concerned.”

Mayor Dennis Walsh, who used to live in St. Louis Park, also spoke about the resolution and the St. Louis Park City Council’s decision.

“The last five words of the Pledge of Allegiance are ‘liberty and justice for all.’ I think we’re the only country in the entire world that can say we have that for all our citizens,” Walsh said. “I think it’s an affront to all the people who have fought and died over the last 242 years for this country, including my grandfather and my great-great-great-great grandfather who fought in the Revolutionary War.”

The City Council unanimously passed the resolution, and then rose, faced the flag and recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

“I think it would show great deference to the flag and the people who have died to defend this country,” Walsh told Lakeshore Weekly News when asked whether all city councils should recite the Pledge of Allegiance before meetings.

St. Louis Park

Orono’s decision to introduce the resolution came after the St. Louis Park City Council decided at its June 15 meeting to stop reciting the Pledge at the start of meetings.

“We concluded that in order to be a more welcoming environment to a diverse community, we’re going to forego saying the Pledge of Allegiance for every meeting,” Council member Tim Brausen said during the meeting.

The move prompted backlash from residents and others, including President Donald Trump, who tweeted about the growing outrage in Minnesota “where our Patriots are now having to fight for the right to say the Pledge of Allegiance.”

The St. Louis Park City Council was also met with a protest at its July 8 meeting, where attendees wore red, white and blue and waved flags. At the meeting, the City Council decided to get more input from residents on whether the Pledge of Allegiance should be reinstated at the start of meetings.

At the July 15 meeting, among more protests, the City Council voted to reinstate the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance before its meetings.

Frances Stevenson is a reporter for the Lakeshore Weekly News, covering the communities around Lake Minnetonka.

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